O’Neill backs youngsters to step up to plate

NEW Cork hurling captain Shane O’Neill insists there’s sufficient young talent in the county to fill the vacancy left by Sean Óg Ó hAilpín.

The 33-year-old won’t be lining out for Cork in 2011 after his 15-year inter-county career came to an end in October.

“There’s no doubt that any team would miss a guy like Sean Óg because he’s been one of Cork’s best players since he started out in 1996,” said O’Neill, who was recently handed the captain’s armband by manager Denis Walsh.

“But it’s up to the younger fellas now to step up to the plate. I’m sure a lot of them will get their chance in challenge matches and in the league as well over the next two or three months. It’s up to them to take their chances and fill Sean Óg’s boots. I’m sure Sean Óg would say the exact same thing. Looking at the U21’s last year there are plenty of good players coming through, so hopefully one of them will take up the number seven jersey.”

O’Neill was speaking to Cork’s RedFM as part of their tribute to O’hAilpín — “The Magnificent 7” — which will air on the Big Red Bench tomorrow evening at 6pm, and will feature contributions from Donal Óg Cusack, Joe Deane, Dan Shanahan and Larry Tompkins.

Meanwhile Ó hAilpín will not line out for the North Mon past pupils selection that face Cork in tonight’s senior hurling challenge in Na Piarsaigh’s grounds at 7pm as he is currently away on holidays in Australia.

Ó hAilpín’s brother Teu will be part of the North Mon squad along with current Cork seniors Patrick Horgan and Graham Callanan.

Cork boss Denis Walsh has named a formidable side for the game with experienced players like defensive duo Ronan Curran and John Gardiner, midfielder Jerry O’Connor and attackers Tom Kenny and Ben O’Connor all included.

Admission for tonight’s match is €5 with students and OAP’s free of charge.

CORK: A Nash; J O’Mahony, E Cadogan, C O’Sullivan; R Curran, J Gardiner, J Nagle; B Murphy, J O’Connor; T Kenny, C McCarthy, C Naughton; M Cussen, K Murphy, B O’Connor. Subs: M Coleman, P O’Leary, C Fogarty, G Moylan, C Joyce, W Egan, P O’Mahoney, B Johnson, B Lawton, T Murray, S Harnedy, N McCarthy, J Coughlan, E Murphy, B Hartnett.

NORTH MON SQUAD: D Mannix, P Gould, A Brady, S Glasgow, T Ó’hAilpín, J Egan, R Healy — Na Piarsaigh; C Barry, A Fenton — St Vincents; J Hughes — Blarney; G Callanan, P Horgan, D Cronin, E Cronin, D Goggin, D Cunningham — Glen Rovers; G Ahern, A Coughlan, B Hennebry, M Russell – Blackrock.

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