Six men who could replace Kieran Kingston as Cork hurling boss
After a stunning improvement inside 12 months, Cork hurling supporters were hoping for more of the same in 2018 - and that was supposed to start with the continuation of Kieran Kingston as manager.
Kingston had overseen a dramatic about turn in fortunes this summer.
After winning the Munster final, Cork were beaten down the home straight of an All-Ireland semi-final by Waterford.
In 2016, they gathered just two competitive wins in nine games.
Speculation had been rife that Kingston was ready to walk away due to the commitment involved given that he had served the county as either selector, coach or manager for five of the last six seasons.
And over the weekend, the Rebel county board confirmed in a statement that Kingston was stepping down
His decision represents a speedbump in the development of an exciting new Cork side.
Kingston gave youth its chance this summer and was rewarded handsomely. Mark Coleman is nominated for the Young Hurler of the Year award, while Darragh Fitzgibbon and Colm Spillane picked up All-Star nominations last week after Cork's young team helped light up the summer.
Luke Meade endured an injury hit campaign but he also showed why he is so highly thought of on Leeside.
There's an experienced core there too. Damien Cahalane enjoyed probably his best season for the Rebels at full-back.
Alan Cadogan had an excellent campaign as did Patrick Horgan, who surpassed Christy Ring's scoring record during the summer.
There's more talent coming down the track too. Along with the senior crown, Cork won Munster titles at U-17 and minor level.
The U-17s went on to win the All-Ireland while the minors lost to Galway in the decider.
The U-21s were the only Cork hurling side not to win the province but they went down narrowly to would-be All-Ireland champions Limerick in the Munster final without some of their front line players.
It all means that Kingston leaves Cork hurling in a good place with the process to replace him set to start at the first county board meeting to be held in the new Pairc Ui Chaoimh tonight.
Here we run the rule over some of the leading contenders to replace him.
A Wexford native but Meyler he has long been considered part of the furniture on Leeside. He was in charge of the county's U-21s that went down by just two points to Limerick in the Munster final while he also served as a selector under Kingston
Meyler has managerial experience after spells in charge of Wexford, Carlow and Kerry in the past and significant knowledge of the local scene having taken charge of a number of Cork clubs as well as CIT. The early front-runner for the role in many people's eyes.
Like Meyler, O'Sullivan acted as a selector under Kingston and offers continuity to Cork's emerging group of players. His playing credentials are impeccable having secured three All-Ireland titles and five Munster crowns with the Rebels. O'Sullivan would be a popular appointment with the Cork hurling public.
Another potential appointment from within the 2017 management team having taken over as coach of the team from Frank Flannery. If appointed, Ryan would follow in the footsteps of Kingston who served as team coach before graduating to the hot seat. Well respected within the set up, he helped Sarsfields to Cork SHC titles in 2012 and 2015.
Holds huge respect in Cork circles from his playing days and has worked with some of the current panel when he served as a coach under Jimmy Barry Murphy in 2012 and again when they reached the All-Ireland final in 2013. His recent stint in charge of Dublin wasn't a success but it did come at a time when the panel was due a significant overhaul.
Donal Og Cusack
Cusack has had had his fair share of run-ins with the board in Cork having been front and centre during the players' strike in the middle of the last decade meaning he is very much an outside bet. However he is respected as a coach having been utilised by two different Clare management teams. He was first taken in by Davy Fitzgerald during his spell there before being kept on by current Banner bosses Gerry O'Connor and Donal Moloney.
Mulcahy was considered to be in the shake up when Kingston was given the job for the 2016 season. He pulled out of the race at that stage but left the door open for a run in the future.