LONG-serving Kilkenny defender Michael Kavanagh is mulling over his inter-county future.
Following the retirements of James 'Cha' Fitzpatrick, Eddie Brennan and goalkeeper PJ Ryan from Brian Cody's squad, speculation is now focusing on Kavanagh.
Kilkenny County Board secretary Ned Quinn revealed last night that Kavanagh has yet to make his intentions clear ahead of the 2012 season.
Kavanagh (32) is the proud holder of eight All-Ireland medals and four All Star awards; the corner-back has also won 13 Leinster crowns and five National Hurling League titles.
Following Kilkenny's defeat in the 2010 All-Ireland final against Tipperary, it was wrongly reported that Kavanagh had retired from the inter-county game.
The experienced St Lachtain's man decided to soldier on for another season but the emergence of All Star Paul Murphy in the right corner-back position saw Kavanagh frozen out completely.
Quinn said: "There's no official word from Michael yet. And we won't be pushing him either. Michael will make up his own mind in his own time."
Kilkenny, meanwhile, have just the one training session under their belts after returning home from a team holiday and thoughts are already turning towards the Walsh Cup opener against Wexford or NUIG on Sunday week.
A number of rising young stars have been tipped for call-ups to Cody's squad, including Tullaroan's Padraig Walsh, younger brother of Tommy, and Cillian Buckley from Dicksboro.
Walsh and Buckley were both All-Ireland minor medallists in 2010.
Ballyragget's Joe Brennan has reportedly been called up, while clubmates James Gannon and Kevin Kelly are other potential candidates to make the step-up from the Leinster junior club champions, who are due to play Ballygar from Galway in next Sunday's All-Ireland semi-final.
Meanwhile, John McGrath and Jim O'Connor will jointly manage the county's senior football team for this year's Allianz League.
There were fears that the Cats would not be able to field a team because they had already pulled out of the O'Byrne Cup and had no manager after Dick Mullins stepped down.
But McGrath and O'Connor, former selectors with Mullins, have agreed to take charge of the team for the 2012 season.
Kilkenny failed to enter a team in the NFL for almost a decade but returned to the competition in 2008 and have wallowed at the bottom of Division 4 since.