Kingston: "It's An Honour to Represent Our County At This Time".
Cork Senior Hurling Manager and Tracton native, Kieran Kingston, has said that he and his players feel honoured to be able to represent Cork now more than ever, given the circumstances that the country finds itself in.
Speaking to The Carrigdhoun Newspaper during Monday Night's press conference ahead of the Rebel County's clash with Waterford in the Munster Championship semi-final this weekend, Kingston acknowledged that while it is always a privilege to represent Cork, this year carries a special added piece of motivation as elite-level sport takes centre stage.
"In this particular year, given the hardship with lockdown and level 5 that all the country is in, for us to be able to come together and play games I think is very very important for us, the players but also for the people of Cork and GAA people across the country that we can do that and we are all honoured that we are part of something special in what is an extraordinary year."
Pic: Tracton's Kieran Kingston
While many players are eager to commence their inter-county season, especially having witnessed the thrilling contest between Limerick and Clare last weekend, there are a few absentees ahead of the game with the Déise, giving the Cork boss a bit of a headache in terms of his team selection. Darragh Fitzgibbon and Eoin Cadogan will miss out due to injury, while forward Robbie O'Flynn is suspended.
All three men would have been almost certain to start the game, meaning that Kingston will have to make use of his wider squad. On the positive side, key defender Colm Spillane has been declared fit for the weekend, having picked up a bad hand injury during Castlelyon's PIHC final defeat to Carrigaline topplers, Blarney.
It will mark the first Championship game in charge for Kieran since his last campaign with Cork back in 2016-2017. The Tracton man is confident that Cork can really mount an All-Ireland challenge this year and is excited to recommence his tenure with a game in the home of hurling.
"We love going to Thurles and I've never been in a situation where that pitch wasn't presented as a golf green and I've no doubt irrespective of the weather it'll be that way on Saturday", declared Kingston on Monday night.
The occasion will be like no other on Saturday afternoon. The team won't be greeted by thousands of travelling supporters but instead will be faced by an eerie silence that will hang around Semple Stadium. However, one thing is for certain and that is there is sure to be some lively living rooms and colourful language being hurled towards the television screen as supporters wonder if the 15-year quest for Sam will finally end this year.