CORK have been hit by the retirement of Ben O'Connor from inter-county hurling less than a week after he lined out against Dublin in the Allianz HL in Croke Park.
The 2004 All-Ireland winning captain has decided to call and end to an illustrious career which saw him claim three Celtic Crosses, two All Stars a NHL medal and five Munster titles.
"Ben has been an outstanding servant to Cork GAA," said manager, Jimmy Barry Murphy in a statement last night, "and while we are very disappointed to lose his services, we respect his decision and wish him well."
The news comes on the same day that Kildare forward, Ken Donnelly and Derry stalwart, Enda Muldoon, both announced their own decisions to retire from the inter-county game following a spate of respective injuries.
O'Connor's decision comes as the Cork boss makes significant changes to the side which beat Dublin a week ago for the visit of Galway. Damian Cahalane starts at full-back in place of the injured Stephen McDonnell and Willie Egan returns at wing-back for Eoin Cadogan - who is available to Conor Counihan's footballers for their clash with Kerry on the same day, but hasn't been named in the team - while Tom Kenny reverts to the half-back line.
KERRY have made just one solitary change to their team for their visit to Páirc Uí Chaoimh, with veteran defender, Tom O'Sullivan replacing the injured, Daniel Bohane. Tomás Ó Sé is available again after serving a one-match suspension, but Peter Crowley retains the number five jersey after a strong showing against Donegal a week ago.
JOHN GALVIN, meanwhile, makes his long-awaited return from a cruciate ligament injury for Limerick after he was named to start in his customary midfield position for the visit of Wicklow.
KERRY (SF v Cork): B Kealy; M ó Sé, A O'Mahony, K Young; P Crowley, E Brosnan, B McGuire; A Maher, B Sheehan; P Galvin, Darran O'Sullivan, Declan O'Sullivan; BJ Keane, K Donaghy, P Curtin.
CORK (SF): A Quirke; R Carey, E O'Mahony, E Cotter; N O'Leary, G Canty, P Kissane; A O'Connor, P O'Neill; F Goold, P Kerrigan, P Kelly; C O'Neill, A Walsh, D O'Connor.
WESTMEATH (SF v Monaghan): G Connaughton; M Curley, K Gavin, K Maguire; D McDermott, M Ennis, A Finnan; J Heslin, P Bannon; K Martin, G Egan, P Sheridan; A Giles, David Glennon, P Sharry.
LIMERICK (SF v Wicklow): B Scanlon; E Barry, S Lavin, L O'Dwyer; J Riordan, S Lucey, B Fitzpatrick; J Galvin, P Kinnerk; S O'Carroll, E O'Connor, P Ranahan; G Collins, J O'Meara, I Ryan.
TYRONE (SF v Galway): J Curran; A McCrory, Justin McMahon, PJ Quinn; C McCarron, P Harte, D McCaul; M Murphy, S Cavanagh; R McNabb, Mark Donnelly, Mattie Donnelly; K Coney, M Penrose, O Mulligan.
GALWAY (SH v Cork): J Skehill; D Connolly, D Collins, G O'Halloran; N O'Donoghue, F Moore, J Coen; D Burke, A Smyth; C Cooney, N Burke, I Tannian; D Hayes, J Regan, B Burke.?
CORK (SH): D Og Cusack; S O'Neill, D Cahalane, B Murphy; T Kenny, J Gardiner, W Egan; L McLoughlin, S Og O hAilipin; C Lehane, P Cronin, C Naughton; P Horgan, P O'Sullivan, J Coughlan.
WESTMEATH (SH v Carlow): S McGovern; P Fennell, D McCormack, C Jordan; J Gilligan, E Price, P Gilsenan; P Dowdall, J Clarke; F Boyle, B Murtagh, P Greville; A Dermody, C Boyle, D Carthy.
TIPPERARY (SH v Waterford): D Gleeson; D Maher, P Curran, M Cahill; J O'Keeffe, C O'Mahony; P Maher, J Woodlock; J Ryan, N McGrath, P Bourke; J O'Neill, B O'Meara, S Bourke.
TIPPERARY (SF v Sligo): M O'Donnell; A Morrissey, L Egan, C McDonald; R Kiely, T Ryan, D Lynch; E Ryan, D Heffernan; D Leahy, P Acheson, H Coghlan; B O'Brien, P Austin, S Ryan.