Donal Óg refutes media claims of reaction to being dropped

Donal Óg refutes media claims of reaction to being dropped

Long-serving Cork goalkeeper Donal Óg Cusack says he is not bitter about his axing from the Rebels' senior hurling panel.

Cusack was surprisingly omitted from Jimmy Barry-Murphy's squad for the current Allianz Hurling League campaign, and the 35-year-old has confirmed that the management's decision to drop him is a permanent one.

Facing up to his enforced retirement from inter-county hurling, he told RTÉ Radio 1 today: "This league panel was the first league squad since 1996 that I wasn’t involved in. That is a change in your life. I like to look back on the positive things.

"I made great friends, great memories, the game taught me a lot, playing inter-county taught me a lot. It taught me about health and even around the areas of mental resilience if you like.

"Sometimes there is a danger when you finish your career, a lot of careers can come to an abrupt end, that you can be bitter. But I have absolutely no intention of being like that.

"Having said that, I fully understand what happened and I have my own views on what happened."

In discussing how he learned of his axing in January, Cusack refuted claims in the media that he was just being omitted from the league panel and secondly, that he reacted angrily to Barry-Murphy's decision.

"I met Jimmy on a Tuesday morning. He sat into my car because I was actually coming from work and had to get back there," he explained.

"He said he wanted to have a chat with me and there were two things that came out of that conversation that were reported in the media.

"One was this was just for the league or a temporary removal. There wasn’t anyone that told me that and Jimmy certainly didn’t put that to me. The second one was that I reacted badly and angrily in the conversation.

"That wasn’t the case, that wasn’t the way it was and it was one of those things that when you see it in the media and so many people reporting on those two aspects, you are just wondering where are those two things coming from.

"It was a conversation between two men and there wasn't any anger shown in the conversation. It was just very matter of fact and that was it."

Cusack was Cork's first choice goalkeeper in 2012 until he ruptured his Achilles tendon in last April's Allianz League semi-final against Tipperary. Kanturk clubman Anthony Nash took over for the Championship and went on to win an All-Star award.

A three-time All-Ireland winner and former captain, Cusack was a key figure in the Cork hurlers' 2002 strike over team preparations and conditions, while five years later he was central to a strike involving the county's footballers and hurlers regarding the appointment of selectors.

The Cloyne net minder released a highly acclaimed and award-winning autobiography, 'Come What May', in 2009 in which he disclosed his sexuality, becoming the first openly gay elite Irish sportsman.

"I gave what I had, I gave as much as I had to the sport. I gave what I had off the field as well in terms of making my views clear on certain things in areas we wanted to stand up and fight for," he added during the radio interview, referring to the strikes.

“I’ve absolutely no regrets in any of that territory and the stances we took. At that time in our lives, that’s what we believed was the right thing to do for Cork hurling and for the players themselves.

"I’ve been there, done that and I have enough things in my life to be focusing on. I think it’s important for me to move on to the next challenge.”

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