DONAL Óg Cusack has retired from inter-county hurling after being omitted from the Cork panel for the Allianz hurling league.
The veteran goalkeeper dismissed media reports that he had an argument with Cork manager Jimmy Barry-Murphy when he was told he was being left out for the league.
After 16 years with the Cork hurling team, Cusack could not envisage a return to the Rebel line-up and has decided to retire.
"This league panel was the first league squad since 1996 that I wasn’t involved in,” the 35 year old said.
“That is a change in your life. I like to look back on the positive things. I made great friends, great memories, the game taught me a lot, playing inter-county taught me a lot. It taught me about health and even around the areas of mental resilience if you like.
"Sometimes there is a danger when you finish your career - and a lot of careers can come to an abrupt end - that you can be bitter. But I have absolutely no intention of being like that. Having said that, I fully understand what happened and I have my own views on what happened.
"I met Jimmy on a Tuesday morning. He sat into my car because I was actually coming from work and had to get back there.
"He said he wanted to have a chat with me and there were two things that came out of that conversation that were reported in the media.
"One was this was just for the league or a temporary removal. There wasn’t anyone that told me that and Jimmy certainly didn’t put that to me. The second one was that I reacted badly and angrily in the conversation.
"That wasn’t the case, that wasn’t the way it was and it was one of those things that when you see it in the media and so many people reporting on those two aspects, you are just wondering where are those two things coming from."
Cusack said that his decision came after a frank but fair meeting with the manager.
"It was a conversation between two men and there wasn’t any anger shown in the conversation,” he added.
“It was just very matter of fact and that was it. Playing for Cork was a big part of my life. Athletes and sports people, it’s an athletic identity that they have. You identify yourself through your sport. Through my work in the Gaelic Players Association, it’s a thing I’d be very conscious of and have seen it in other players.
"It’s a thing we’re very conscious of when putting programmes together that when a player leaves an inter-county panel it can often be a very challenging time in his life. I was there, I gave what I had, I gave as much as I had to the sport.
"I gave what I had off the field as well in terms of making my views clear on certain things in areas we wanted to stand up and fight for.
“I’ve absolutely no regrets in any of that territory and the stances we took.
"At that time in our lives, that’s what we believed was the right thing to do for Cork hurling and for the players themselves. I’ve been there, done that and I have enough things in my life to be focusing on. I think it’s important for me to move on to the next challenge.”
The Cloyne clubman finishes his career with three All-Ireland’s, five Munster titles and two All-Stars to his name.