Shields to miss part of Cork's NFL campaign

Cork defender Michael Shields, who skippered the Rebels to National Football League honours last year, is set to miss the opening stages of the 2011 campaign due to pre-arranged travel plans.

Cork defender Michael Shields, who skippered the Rebels to National Football League honours last year, is set to miss the opening stages of the 2011 campaign due to pre-arranged travel plans.

The All-Star full-back is currently away on the Cork panel's holiday in South Africa until January 14.

However, Shields is extending the holiday to do some further travelling and is not expected home until the third round of the National League at the earliest.

As a result he will miss Cork's opening defence against local rivals Kerry on February 6 and their Croke Park showdown with Dublin a fortnight later.

Meanwhile, the Rebels will field a development team for their McGrath Cup opener against Waterford IT at Pairc Ui Rinn this Sunday.

Alan O'Connor and Kevin McMahon are the only players from the successful All-Ireland winning squad available for the game against the students. Some 31 members of the 34-man squad are currently on the team holiday in South Africa.

O'Connor, McMahon and former first choice centre-back Ger Spillane were the only players who failed to travel.

However, Spillane is unavailable for this weekend's game as he is currently in America.

Senior selector Terry O'Neill, who has not travelled to South Africa, will take charge of the team and will be assisted by Under-21 manager John Cleary.

Players from Cork's All-Ireland Under-21 winning sides of 2007 and 2009 are expected to get the call-up, including defenders John McLoughlin, Ian Jones and Denis O'Sullivan, midfielder Eoin Keane and forwards Carthach Keane, Colm O'Driscoll, Jason Sexton and David Gould.

Ballincollig goalkeeper David Lordan, Clonakilty duo Denis Murphy and Sean Nagle, and Kilmacabea's Daniel O'Donovan will also be given an opportunity to impress.

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