More stars may face axe by Cork boss

SEÁN ÓG O HAILPÍN may not be the last high profile casualty as Cork senior hurling manager Denis Walsh restructures his squad for the 2011 campaign.

O hAilpín was informed by Walsh that he was “not part of his plans” for next season and now many other star names are nervously awaiting news on their intercounty futures.

Walsh and his management team are undertaking a series of meetings with 2010 panelists as they review a season in which their side reached the NHL final and the Munster SHC final, losing to Galway and Waterford respectively, before being heavily defeated in the All-Ireland semi-final to Kilkenny.

It was after one such meeting that the manager informed O hAilpín that he was surplus to requirements for the year.

Those meetings continued last evening, with more expected to take place today with increasing speculation on Leeside that other players could also be axed.

The Irish Examiner revealed yesterday that O hAilpín, Cork’s All-Ireland-winning captain in 2005, was on the point of retirement from the intercounty scene, and the Na Piarsaigh clubman confirmed the news with a statement.

The statement, released by the GPA, revealed: “I met with the Cork hurling manager, Denis Walsh, on Saturday last where he informed me that I was not in his plans for the Cork Hurling Panel.

“I would love to continue to play for Cork, but I must respect the manager’s decision in this regard. I will however keep playing with my club Na Piarsaigh. I would like to thank all the players who I played with over my fourteen-year career. I have always taken immense pride in wearing the Cork jersey and representing the county I love.

“I wish the Cork team the best of luck in their future endeavours. I would like to thank all of the Cork supporters and GAA supporters around the country for their phenomenal support throughout my career. I do not wish to make any further comment on this matter.

“Corcaigh abú.”

Tomás Mulcahy, who captained the 1990 All-Ireland hurling-winning side, believes others may be joining O hAilpín in the stands next year.

He told RTÉ: “If there is to be a clearout, you’d have to question why only one, at this stage, has come into the limelight. If there are to be others who have given the same level of service as Seán Óg, maybe that’s to happen over the next couple of days. That’s the priority of Denis Walsh and his management team, to pick who they want going forward in 2011 and he feels he needs to freshen it up, he needs to bring in new legs and unfortunately there have to be omissions. At some stage it has to come to an end.”

The announcement brings to an end an illustrious career for the county. Following All-Ireland success at colleges (1994), minor (1995) and U21 level (1997 and 1998), he made his senior hurling championship debut in 1996, as a 19-year-old against Limerick.

He went onto make 47 championship appearances for the Cork hurlers. He also played 11 times for the footballers, winning National League and Munster titles in 1999.

O hAilpín played on three All-Ireland winning teams – 1999, 2004 and ‘05 – and captained the latter side to victory over Galway.

He was named Hurler of the Year in 2004 and won three All Star awards. His last game for Cork was against Kilkenny last August, when the Cats won 1-23 to 0-17.

O hAilpín’s former intercounty team mate Diarmuid O’Sullivan last night slammed the decision.

He said: “It brings Denis Walsh’s managerial abilities into question once again. Can you replace the likes of Seán Óg O hAilpín? He was without doubt Cork’s standout player in the All-Ireland semi-final against Kilkenny. Is there someone to take his place?

“Within the Cork senior hurling championship this year, I haven’t seen so? He’s a legend of the game in Cork, he’s a legend to a lot of people”.

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