Naughton, Cussen unlikely to see league action for Cork

Forwards Cathal Naughton and Michael Cussen are unlikely to be a part of the Cork senior squad for the Allianz Hurling League campaign.

The Rebels returned from a team holiday last week and began training on Thursday night ahead of their opening game of 2014 — Saturday’s Canon O’Brien Cup clash with UCC. While footballers Aidan Walsh and Eoin Cadogan have been added to the squad, along with Brian Lawton, Paul Haughney and Michael Cahalane, there are no spots for Naughton, Cussen or Midleton’s Patrick O’Mahony.

Naughton (27) burst onto the inter-county scene in 2006, scoring 1-1 after being introduced as a sub in the All-Ireland semi-final against Waterford. The Newtownshandrum man has struggled to nail down a starting spot since but his exclusion is still likely to come as a surprise. Cussen, 30 in April, had previously played football for Cork but at the beginning of the 2010 season switched allegiance to the hurlers. While he had previously been omitted for 2012 by Jimmy Barry-Murphy, strong performances for Sarsfields earned him a recall last year. Midleton defender O’Mahony was a mainstay of the side which ended a 22-year wait for a county title last year and was also at full-back for the Cork U21 side in 2013.

Cork selector Johnny Crowley is keen to point out that the door remains open, however.

“The panel is evolving all the time,” he said, “and we’re letting some fellas back to the clubs and see how they get on. We have a few new lads coming in and we’re keeping an eye on everything that’s going on.

“We’re looking forward to Saturday and we’ll hope to have a strong team out. We’ll take the game very seriously, it’s honouring a great man of Cork hurling. ”

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