The 2009 Limerick senior hurlers, who have withdrawn their services under their embattled manager Justin McCarthy, last night issued a lengthy statement in which they insist that they are unwilling to return to the Limerick panel while the current management team is in place.
By issuing the statement, they aim to address what they believe has been an orchestrated series of allegations made by McCarthy and several other prominent figures in the ongoing dispute.
In the statement signed by 24 players, including last year's captain Mark Foley, they have outlined six issues which they feel need to be addressed.
They say the origins of the dispute arose because of McCarthy's failure to clarify instances where discipline was breached or a lack of commitment was evident, and that as a result each player made a voluntary decision regarding their availability for the 2010 panel under the current management.
Their statement read: "At no time over the course of approximately 100 training sessions or gatherings did Mr McCarthy make any reference to a 'lack of discipline or commitment.' Indeed on several occasions, he made the point that this Limerick team was the 'most committed he'd ever worked with and were a pleasure to train'."
The players also say that player representatives were willing to meet the management to discuss issues, but only after the players withdrew their services were management willing to hold a meeting, despite the players having met with County Board officials on three previous occasions to discuss issues of concern.
They went on to describe the allegation that a small group of players are behind the action as "the most damning of all accusations made".
The statement continued: "It is important to stress that at no point was any individual player unduly influenced or forced into making a decision by any other player regarding his future involvement with the 2010 Limerick hurling squad. This decision is, and has been at all times, left up to the individual as no player should stand in the way of the career of another player."
The players then went on to point out "a failure of communication" on the part of McCarthy saying: "His failure, even still, to extend common courtesy to the dropped players by informing them (either by phone or letter) that they would not be required for the forthcoming season was only one of a series of communication failures on his part over the course of the year."
"Players and management were at odds at many points throughout the year. This came to a head before the qualifier game against Wexford in July of this year when players took the unprecedented step of organising our own game-plan in the absence of any acceptance from management that our performances to that point were sub-standard."
The county board also came in for criticism in their handling of the affair in which the players had pointed out over the course of last season that "preparations were not up to the required standards and that team morale was quite poor".
The players claim that the county board failed to discuss the matter and suggested that "there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that many junior and intermediate clubs had been actively canvassed by members of the management and the County Board to vote in favour of Justin McCarthy's retention as Limerick senior hurling manager for 2010.
"In many cases, false information and rumours were initiated to reflect poorly on certain members of the 2009 panel, and thereby influence the vote."
The players then went on to say that the county board had accused the players of being responsible for the departure of the last six managers and made reference to "player power" as being at the centre of the current dispute.
In their final point they said: "Many players have received intimidating phone calls from members of the management and back room staff putting them under pressure to join the 2010 Limerick senior hurling panel."
This was in response to Justin McCarthy's assertion that "We've tried to discuss things with them, and they won't answer our calls, or come face to face and discuss anything".
The statement was signed by:
David Bulfin, Tom Condon, Damien Cosgrave, Eoin Foley, Mark Foley, Brian Geary, Seamus Hickey, Stephen Lucey, Wayne McNamara, Denis Moloney, Niall Moran, Ollie Moran, Brian Murray, James O'Brien, Mike O'Brien, Donal O'Grady, Gavin O'Mahoney, Mark O'Riordan, Andrew O'Shaughnessy, Damien Reale, Donie Ryan, James Ryan, Donncha Sheehan, Stephen Walsh.