Tracton’s Kingston Looking to end ‘Years of Pain’ and lead Cork to All-Ireland Glory
Writes Ciaran Dineen
’20 years of pain’ is how Cork senior hurling manager and Tracton GAA club legend, Kieran Kingston described the trials and tribulations that Cork GAA supporters have had to endure over the past two decades.
While the Rebel County experienced the joy of All-Ireland glory with the small ball both in 2004 and 2005, what Kingston references is the years of near misses both at senior and underage levels, which has led to a drought in success that we have become all too familiar with.
After several campaigns in the late noughties and early 2010s saw results that were unrecognisable with past achievements, the fortunes began to turn upon the arrival of former manager Jimmy Barry Murphy. The agony of the 2013 All-Ireland Finals, the last time Cork reached the last hurdle before the holy grail, has only been followed up by appearances in three semi-finals (’14,’17 &’18), awarding the team the tag of the ‘nearly men’.
Kingston himself has been there for much of the ‘pain’ that he describes. As well as being a selector alongside JBM in the defeat against Clare in 2013 and semi-final defeat to Tipperary in 2014, the Tracton man has experienced the disappointment as the main man, suffering a loss to Waterford in 2017, this time as manager.
Now in his second stint, following his reappointment to the role in 2019, the ecstasy he visibly expressed in Croke Park a few weeks ago felt like the end of a hoodoo, with Cork overcoming Kilkenny to break their semi-final duck for the first time in eight years. While finals are certainly there for winning and not just taking part, it seemed like a great burden had been lifted, both for the squad of players and management alike.
The task that awaits is a significant one however, with Cork firmly placed as underdogs against a Limerick team that would challenge any of the great hurling ‘galacticos’ which have gone before us. Nevertheless, Kingston is quietly confident that his side are on the right track to deliver a performance that will upset the odds. Speaking at a media briefing last weekend the Cork boss said, “we know we are total underdogs going into it but saying that, it’s an All-Ireland Final for one and two, there’s only two that can win it and we’re one of them. We’ve also had good momentum, we’ve won three knockout games in a row and I think they are good character builders and that’s great for the group for their own evolution and development”.
This group of players appear to have better resolve and steelier determination than what has previously been attributed to recent Cork teams. While those that take to the field have found their voice during moments of adversity, the presence of Kingston and other members of his background team is clearly having some impact.
He “commands a room”, states Chairperson of Tracton GAA, Frank Walsh when asked by The Carrigdhoun Newspaper to describe his clubmate. “He is someone that everyone listens to when he speaks because it’s always worth taking on board whatever he has to say. We absolutely love him down here in Tracton, he’s had great moments with the club, especially his goal against Inniscarra in 1991 which won us the County Final.”
Kingston will be looking for the support of his former team and the rest of the county come Sunday. Those that are lucky enough to get a ticket will especially be called upon to help the team to victory with Kieran telling The Carrigdhoun Newspaper that having supporters at games over the past few weeks has been a real benefit. “99.9% of supporters are fantastic and back us to the hilt. The one thing that I think they have bought into is the honesty that they see in the group. The effort that they deliver on the pitch and the hunger they show for playing for Cork and for the jersey”.
Ahead of the final, everyone at The Carrigdhoun Newspaper wants to wish Tracton GAA, Kieran and his team the very best of luck, with a special mention to Pa and Ger Collins of Ballinhassig, as Cork look to end 16 years of near misses. Up the Rebels!