Gardiner and McCarthy exit as Cork's golden era fades away
The number of survivors from Cork's last All-Ireland winning hurling team is down to just three after the departures of John Gardiner and Niall McCarthy from Jimmy Barry-Murphy's 2013 squad.
McCarthy is understood to be considering emigrating in the new year, while Gardiner has been told that, after a decade of service, he has been deemed surplus to requirements for next season.
Following on from Sean Og O hAilpin's retirement, it means that only Brian Murphy, Tom Kenny and Donal Og Cusack remain from the team that started the 2005 All-Ireland final win over Galway.
Goalkeeper Cusack looks set to continue as he recovers from the Achilles injury that ended his season as captain last April.
But, with Anthony Nash winning an All Star in his first full season as the Cork No 1, the situation for Cusack has changed and there is no guarantee that, despite the high standards he has set for himself in a lengthy career, he will make the starting team in the future.
McCarthy, O hAilpin and Gardiner all started the 2005 final and were central figures that day.
Gardiner was prominent off the field in his role as captain during the third of the player strikes in 2008 and early 2009 as the hurlers protested against the re-appointment of Gerald McCarthy as manager for a third year.
Meanwhile, a row has broken out in Galway hurling which has resulted in a decision not to relegate any team from the senior grade this year, which means 22 will participate in the 2013 championship.
The move follows an objection by Liam Mellows -- one of three teams three facing the drop to intermediate. Last year's All-Ireland club champions, Clarinbridge, and Carnmore were also in danger of being relegated.