Sunday 22 April 2018

Walsh axe to swing again as O hAilpin 'moves on'

Sean Og o hAilpin accepts that his days as a Cork player are over. Photo: Brendan Moran / Sportsfile
Sean Og o hAilpin accepts that his days as a Cork player are over. Photo: Brendan Moran / Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

NOW that Sean Og O hAilpin has called for closure on his own departure from the Cork senior hurling scene, the focus has shifted on to which of his team-mates Denis Walsh will axe next - as the manager continues to reshuffle ahead of next season.

The Na Piarsaigh legend's glittering inter-county career was ended by his manager in October in a decision that led to squad unrest and plenty of outcry on Leeside - the youngest O hAilpin brother, Aisake, left the panel for another shot at the Australian Rules with the Maribyrnong Park Lions.

And after seeing the influential half-back admit defeat in his battle to reclaim a place for 2011, Walsh's attention will now turn to other ageing members of his squad as he looks for an upturn in Rebel fortunes next year.

Speculation is mounting that Jerry O'Connor and Niall McCarthy will now come under pressure after disappointing returns as Cork came up short in the Munster final and All-Ireland semi-final last season.

O'Connor, who was troubled by injury this summer and failed to start for Cork when they were well beaten by Kilkenny in August, attended a meeting with Walsh earlier this month in which senior players requested the return of their team-mate -- but now he could be joining his old mate on the sidelines.

McCarthy (29) could also be on Walsh's hit-list after a disappointing campaign. The Carrigtwohill man has been on the senior panel since 2002 and may suffer as a result.

O hAilpin's comments appear to have drawn a line on his own situation, accepting the managers decision to be final.

"I think it's no hidden secret now, I'm not going to be involved next year," he admitted. "Whether I agree with it or not, I just have to accept it and move on. Once I know in my own head that it wasn't me that pulled the plug on it, I'll move on. Look, that was in October, it's December now and life is moving on for Sean Og.

"You'd look back and wonder did you make a contribution because it's a team sport, it's not an individual sport. And I'm happy enough that I did make a contribution.


"So, I'll walk away happy. I saw it as a job, but it was a labour of love and I got great enjoyment out of it. The 14 years did go by fairly quickly. But if I had another 14 years, I'd do it all over again."

And while the 33-year-old is moving on from his stellar playing career, he regrets not having one more opportunity to line out with his team-mates.

"I'll never sit in a dressing-room again with the likes of Wayne Sherlock, Alan Browne, Brian Corcoran, Joe Deane, Diarmuid O'Sullivan and Donal Og Cusack," he said.

"There were many other players like that as well. Those guys are legends to me. I'll look back on my career and say 'you were a lucky man to be sitting next to quality guys like that'.

"Those guys will do great for the rest of their lives, I know that. They did more than their duty of just playing the game. They treated the sport with the utmost respect."

Meanwhile, Cork senior football manager Conor Counihan has claimed the media are driving the GAA's disciplinary agenda.

The All-Ireland-winning manager believes press and television commentators have been exaggerating incidents such as the infamous row between his full-back Eoin Cadogan and Kerry's Paul Galvin.

"These things happen on the field," he said. "There are rules and regulations there. There are people to implement those. They'll be questioned; I think now they're being questioned a lot more publicly.

"I'm not sure that's all good. I think the media drove a lot of this.

"Let them (the rules and regulations) be enforced and, that's best where that's left."

Irish Independent

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