Cork stars ponder retirement after Walsh axes O hAilpin
More Cork players could retire following the shock omission of Sean Og O hAilpin from the county's 2011 hurling squad.
Walsh and his management team were due to meet more players last night and later this week as they continue to outline their plans for 2011. It is expected that others will be released by Walsh, but some could also decide that in the wake of O hAilpin's axing, the time is right to depart.
It has emerged that some Cork hurlers had already got together in recent weeks in anticipation of a cull by management.
O hAilpin, Donal Og Cusack and the O'Connor twins, Ben and Jerry, have been involved with Cork since the late 1990s but their futures are now under intense speculation, along with several other members of the 2004 and 2005 All-Ireland-winning sides.
In a statement issued yesterday, O hAilpin said: "I met with Denis Walsh on Saturday where he informed me that I was not in his plans. I would love to continue to play for Cork, but I must respect the manager's decision."
O hAilpin has been arguably Cork's most popular player within the dressing-room and his absence could have a knock-on effect on others. John Gardiner is a Na Piarsaigh clubmate and Ronan Curran is part of a half-back line that started 29 championship matches together.
Cusack made it clear in his autobiography last year that when Sean Og's time was up, his could be up too. "I wonder how long I'll have a home for myself in the Cork dressing-room and I think it is as long as Sean Og is there," he wrote.
Criticism of the decision has been led by former full-back Diarmuid O'Sullivan, who said: "It brings Denis Walsh's managerial abilities into question. Can you replace Sean Og, who was Cork's stand-out player in the All-Ireland semi-final against Kilkenny?
"Is there someone there to take his place? In the Cork senior hurling championship, I haven't seen so."