Both could apparently still play a part for the county in the summer to come.
County chairman Ger Lane did make the same denial two weeks ago, but O’Neill went into greater detail at last night’s launch of the Munster hurling and football championships in Cashel.
“We’ve heard that thing come out,” said O’Neill. “There was no breach of discipline in our training camp, absolutely not. Everybody was impeccable out there. That came out. The reason why those guys are back with their clubs a bit more was that for various reasons, whether injury or just not getting game time, they haven’t had much game time with us.
“So, they’re gone back to their clubs now and they’ve played club championship. Our panel is an open panel. We’re going to be bringing in and out fellas, depending on how they’re performing. That’s what’s happening there. There’s no more comment to make on it because that’s the only comment to make on it.” Both O’Halloran and Shields struggled for game time in the recent league campaign. O’Halloran was one of four goalkeepers used in the course of the seven games. O’Neill spoke of Shields struggling with ankle and back issues.
Meanwhile, Alan O’Connor, Paddy Kelly, and Conor Dorman all featured for their clubs recently after layoffs. Noel Galvin, however, is a “doubt”, Barry O’Driscoll remains a long-term absentee while it remains unclear how much damage Ruairi Deane did to his knee playing for Bantry Blues last week.
The dreaded “cruciate” has been mentioned and Deane suffered just that injury two years ago. “I haven’t heard the full report on that so I’m not going to tell you,” said O’Neill. “There’s a fear, but we don’t know exactly what it is.”
Cork slipped through the trapdoor into the league’s second tier last month despite claiming three wins and six points, but their performances on the pitch were delivered on the back of a debilitating situation with regard to facilities which has led to a nomadic existence for the panel.
Former midfielder Derek Kavanagh, writing in his first column for the Irish Examiner last Friday, bemoaned the reconstruction of Páirc Uí Chaoimh and the provision of just one training pitch at a time when the county lacks a centre of excellence and basic training bases for its teams.
O’Neill admitted that it had made for a difficult and frustrating scenario during the winter and spring with the management having to look for suitable — and available — facilities “at the ninth hour or the 12th hour” on a regular basis.
“Before we played Roscommon, we had seven (pitch) training sessions and we can talk up and down but that is the reality of the situation,” he explained. “Maybe Roscommon had only seven sessions, I don’t know, but that’s what we had.” And as for Kavanagh’s argument?
“Being involved with a county team, what I would prefer is if we had a place to go to for every training session and we don’t have to be hunting here and there and everywhere because it just takes up energy, but that is not in our remit.
“There are people involved in that and doing what they are doing. It would be good if we could just go somewhere that is under Cork’s control that we could get access to it when we want it. Kieran Kingston is here and I am sure he would say the same thing.
“It isn’t easy, but hopefully it will improve in the future.”