O’Sullivan dismisses fears of major raft of Rebel retirements

Selector Ger O’Sullivan says he has no fears of a major breaking up of the Cork football team after a second heartbreaking failure to build on the 2010 All-Ireland win.

Following the success over Down two years ago, Cork were dumped out by Mayo at the quarter-final stage in 2011 and, of course, by Donegal in Sunday’s semi-final.

As well as coping with the massive disappointment, a number of the team are approaching the end of their inter-county careers. Goalkeeper Alan Quirke will be 36 in October, utility man Nicholas Murphy was 34 in April, midfielder-cum-forward Pearse O’Neill will be 33 in December, and half-backs Paudie Kissane and Graham Canty were 32 in March and July, respectively.

“Of course, losing to Donegal was a huge disappointment and it will take us some time to get over it,” saidO’Sullivan.

“But in the two defeats, we were only beaten by a Donegal team which was unlucky not to reach last year’s All-Ireland final and by a Mayo team which could be in this year’s All-Ireland final.

“Admittedly, a number of our lads have inter-county mileage on the clock, and they’re not getting any younger. As well, in the modern game, players have to make a massive commitment and some of our lads are married with families.

“But despite these factors I wouldn’t have any fears that there will be any significant breaking up of the team in the near future.”

O’Sullivan went on: “In fact, I see no reason why all of the more senior lads on the panel can’t go on for another year or two. I feel they still have a lot of hunger to compete at the top level, and another big plus is that they are very professional in their approach and look after themselves so well.

“So I would be very surprised if we have any retirements down the road. But I think it’s very important that no hasty decisions are made.

“Sometimes players make knee-jerk decisions after losing a very important match, and often this turns out to be something which they regret within a short space of time.”

Ger O’Sullivan also feels it’s unlikely there will be any quick decisions regarding the Cork backroom team.

Conor Counihan and his co-selectors have now served a total of five years and their latest two-year term expired on Sunday.

“I’d say we’ll leave it for a few weeks before we decide whether we wish to continue on for another year or two,” remarked the Dromtariffe club man.

“I think it’s very important that we don’t rush into any quick decisions and give ourselves enough to take proper stock of the situation.”

O’Sullivan went on to stress there was no question of Cork having underestimated the quality of Donegal.

“We had watched Donegal’s championship games against Derry and Tyrone on television, and (fellow selector) Jim Nolan and myself were at the Ulster final against Down,” he pointed out.

“We were very impressed by Donegal’s fitness levels and the way they implemented their game plan, and so we were fully aware they were going to be very hard to beat.”

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