Sport Hurling

Saturday 21 April 2018

Walsh rejects plea to reinstate ó hAilpín

DAMIAN LAWLOR

A DELEGATION of Cork players made a direct appeal to team management to have Seán óg ó hAilpín reinstated to the panel, but Denis Walsh and his selectors are sticking by their decision.

There had been unrest in the squad over the axing of ó hAilpín, leading to fears that the manager was facing a revolt, especially among the more senior members of the panel. These fears were heightened when just five players turned up for a fitness assessment.

However, this has since been explained away. A number of players were on holidays while those tests were taking place. In addition, Sarsfields players were in Munster club duty and both Na Piarsaigh and Glen Rovers hurlers were in domestic under 21 action.

But just a week after the assessment, full-back Eoin Cadogan and others sought a meeting with manager Denis Walsh to state their upset at the dropping of ó hAilpín and seeking to discuss the situation further. The prospect of the experienced ó hAilpín returning as an advisor was also mooted.

The manager agreed to the meeting but the Sunday Independent understands exchanges were extremely short. The players were told that the decision to drop the half-back had been made for purely hurling reasons and that it was his remit to make the calls regarding team matters and selection. With no further questions being presented, the get-together was then called to a halt.

Walsh has thus far refused to make any comment on the matter and the only public utterances came from Donal óg Cusack last week. "Seán Óg Ó hAilpín was a very good friend of mine, an inspiration not just to me but to a lot of people in Cork and all over the country. I'm just very sad over it," Cusack said.

"He was a friend and inspiration and my overriding emotion when I think about it -- and people who know me have asked -- I tell them the same. I feel, inside of me, very sad about it."

A second fitness assessment for the squad was held last week and it has allayed fears that there would be any further reaction to ó hAilpín's removal.

There was a much higher attendance at this gathering, with experienced centre half-back Ronan Curran attending despite fears he might retire. The long-serving O'Connor twins, Ben and Jerry, were also present.

The Sunday Independent has also learned that there has not been an approach made to footballers Ciarán Sheehan and Aidan Walsh to join up with the hurlers in 2011.

Meanwhile, Sheehan has rejected reports he will resume his AFL career with Carlton Blues ahead of the 2012 Australian Rules season. Instead, he will remain in Cork and finish his sports marketing studies at CIT. He will also link up with the senior footballers again following knee surgery.

"I had surgery to repair some cartilage in my knee but it's nothing major," he said. "I'll be back in training when we return from the team holiday to South Africa in the new year, ready to focus on the coming season."

Sunday Independent

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