O’Neill the ‘ideal choice’ as new Cork hurling captain

SHANE O’NEILL was last night named as the new Cork senior hurling captain for the coming season with manager Denis Walsh describing him as the ‘ideal choice’ for the position.

O’Neill’s selection was announced by the Cork management as their squad convened for training in Mallow last night with dual star Eoin Cadogan installed as vice-captain.

O’Neill served as vice-captain in last year’s campaign and Walsh revealed it was always planned that he’d succeed Kieran ‘Fraggy’ Murphy in the main role.

“When we came in 15 months ago, it was always our aim that Shane would be the captain this year. I think Kieran did a great job last year and he was well respected in all sectors. He was fully aware of the situation that he’d be the captain for one year and then Shane would take the role. Kieran is happy now to focus on one role for the coming year.

“Being vice-captain, Shane has had a chance to look at what’s required and is ready for it now. I think he’s the ideal choice for the role and there was no reason to deviate from the original plan.

“He’s certainly seen by both ourselves and the greater public as one of the leading lights in Cork hurling. The same goes for Eoin and both of them have developed really well over the last couple of seasons.

“But we’d like to think that we have a lot of leaders in our team and this isn’t about putting undue pressure on the lads.”

O’Neill was a member of the All-Ireland winning Cork panel in 2005 but had to wait until 2007 to make his senior hurling championship debut for Cork in the Munster semi-final defeat to Waterford.

Since then he has become a mainstay of the Rebels defence and the Bishopstown player has plenty of experience in the role of captain from his underage career.

In 2004, he lifted silverware when Cork claimed Munster minor hurling honours against Tipperary and he was also captain in 2007 when Cork won the Munster U21 hurling title against Waterford.

Meanwhile, Conal Keaney is expected to confirm by the end of the week whether he will remain with the Dublin footballers or return to the county’s hurling panel. The Ballyboden St Endas man missed Pat Gilroy’s first training session of the year yesterday morning and his absence has triggered speculation he will join up with Anthony Daly and go back to the hurlers for the first time since 2004 when he played both codes. Keaney was a pivotal player in Dublin’s footballers claiming four consecutive Leinster SFC titles but has always said he would like to play inter-county hurling again. The 28-year-old was selected on both hurling and football Dubs Stars teams of 2010 but was unavailable for last Saturday’s games as he was at a wedding along with club-mates and senior Dublin hurlers David Curtin and Stephen Hiney.



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