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From IrishTimes.com (18 August 2010)

Manager calls time on Ó hAilpín

SEÁN ÓG Ó hAILPÍN: IAN O'RIORDAN on the apparent end of an illustrious career in the Cork jersey for the iconic elder Ó hAilpín

Seán Óg Ó hAilpín
After some 15 years of service the senior intercounty huring career of Seán Óg Ó hAilpín would appear to be over after he was effectively told by Cork manager Denis Walsh he was surplus to requirements for the upcoming National Hurling League season. - (Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho).

IT WASN'T supposed to end like this. After some 15 years of intercounty service the career of Cork hurler Seán Óg Ó hAilpín is over – or would certainly appear to be – after he was effectively told by manager Denis Walsh that he's finished, or at least now surplus to requirements.
If it is true and Ó hAilpín has played his last game for Cork then it also marks the end of an era. During his glittering career Ó hAilpín became not just an icon of Cork hurling but of the game in general.

He'll probably be remembered as one of the most popular and recognised figures in the history of the GAA and for sure his place in the Cork half-back line won't be easily replaced.

But his exit from the game is controversial, and has already divided opinion in Cork. Ó hAilpín met with Walsh and the other members of the Cork management last Saturday to discuss plans for the new season, and although the details remain unclear, it appears as if Ó hAilpín was told he no longer featured in their plans, at least not for the start of the National Hurling League in February.

In a statement issued by Ó hAilpín at lunchtime yesterday, through the Gaelic Players Association, he essentially said as much: "I met with the Cork hurling manager Denis Walsh on Saturday last where he informed me that I was not in his plans for the Cork hurling panel.

"I would love to continue to play for Cork, but I must respect the manager's decision in this regard. I will, however, keep playing with my club Na Piarsaigh.

"I would like to thank all the players who I played with over my 14-year career. I have always taken immense pride in wearing the Cork jersey and representing the county I love. I wish the Cork team the best of luck in their future endeavours.

"I would like to thank all of the Cork supporters and GAA supporters around the country for their phenomenal support throughout my career. I do not wish to make any further comment on this matter. Corcaigh abú."

He'll be 34 by the time next year's championship gets under way, and although that's certainly old by the standards of the modern game, Ó hAilpín has famously kept himself in exceptional physical shape.

He had a shaky start to this year's championship and yet delivered one of the better displays in the All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Kilkenny, which now looks like marking his final game in the Cork jersey.

Walsh is understood to have already met most of the Cork hurlers individually in recent days, to outline his plans for 2011, and will see the remainder over the course of this week.

Donal Óg Cusack has already indicated he intends staying on board, but a question remains over Ben O'Connor, the only other survivor of Cork's 1999 All-Ireland winning success, which marked the arrival of Ó hAilpín at senior level.

Former Cork All-Ireland captain Thomas Mulcahy suggested yesterday the door might still be open for Ó hAilpín and perhaps others if and when an initial panel for 2011 is drawn up: "If he (Ó hAilpín) is the only one then people may be asking questions," he said. "But has the door been left open for him?

"There was the situation with Davy Fitzgerald in Waterford when he let the older guys go away over the winter and do their own preparation, and if they were playing good hurling come championship time then he'd look at them again. So you just never know."

Former team-mate and fellow defender Diarmuid O'Sullivan was a lot stronger in his assessment of Walsh's decision not to stick with Ó hAilpín for another year: "I think it brings Denis Walsh's managerial abilities into question once again," he told RTÉ news.

"Can you replace the likes of Seán Óg Ó hAilpín? Without doubt he was Cork's standout player in this year's All-Ireland semi-final against Kilkenny. If there is someone there to take his place within the Cork senior championship this year then I haven't seen him. He's a legend of the game and will be sorely missed."

Walsh is entering his third year as Cork manager, having taken over in March 2009 following the infamous Cork hurling strike surrounding the appointment of Gerald McCarthy – during which Ó hAilpín was one of the more vocal players against that appointment.

Former Cork manager John Allen, who took charge during Cork's All-Ireland success in 2005 – and which Ó hAilpín captained – had only good things to say about his former player.

"I remember he talked to the players in the dressingroom the first night and told them 'Look, John is the manager now, if he says jump, we say how high?'" he said. "That set the tone for me, and for team, and we drove on that year, won every game. So Seán Óg had it all, really, just a fantastic player and person."

He won practically every honour in the game, including minor, under-21 and senior All-Irelands, and at club level also won county medals with Na Piarsaigh in 1995 and 2004, alongside brothers Setanta and Aisake.

* SEÁN ÓG O HAILPÍN been named as a guest on the Cork colleges' panel to face Australia in tomorrow's international rules practice match at Páirc Uí Rinn.

The side will be managed by Des Cullinane and Keith Ricken, who have led UCC and Cork IT respectively to Sigerson Cup success.

According to Cullinane, Ó hAilpín had been enthusiastic about involving himself in the practice but after yesterday's unexpected news it was unclear if the player would be available.

"He was very keen originally and has a great interest in the AFL but I'm not sure if the announcement has affected his decision."

The panel, drawn from UCC and CIT, features a number of players with experience of the now defunct international rules under-17 series, including Barry John Keane who was called up to replace Daniel Goulding, announced last week as a member of Anthony Tohill's international panel for the forthcoming tests.

Admission to the practice will be free and a collection for various GAA charities will be taken. Among the beneficiaries will be the Alan Kerins Fund.


1977: Born Rotuma, Fiji, to Irish father, Fijian mother.

1980: Family relocate to Australia.

1988: Family relocate permanently to Cork.

1994: Wins Dr Harty Cup and All-Ireland Colleges hurling title with North Monastery.

1994: Wins Munster minor hurling title with Cork.

1995: Wins second Munster minor hurling title, and then the All-Ireland.

1996: Wins Munster under-21 hurling title with Cork; makes senior hurling championship debut, against Limerick.

1997: Wins second Munster under-21 hurling title, and then the All-Ireland.

1998: Wins third Munster under-21 hurling title, and second All-Ireland; wins first National Hurling League with Cork.

1999: Wins first National Football League with Cork; wins first Munster senior hurling title; wins first Munster football title; wins first All-Ireland senior hurling title; wins interprovincial football title.

2000: Wins second Munster hurling title.

2001: Breaks kneecap in car crash, but makes full recovery with the help of Ger Hartmann.

2002: To the fore in the first Cork players strike.

2003: Wins third Munster hurling title; wins first All Star.

2004: Wins second All-Ireland senior hurling title; wins second All Star; named Vodafone, GPA and Texaco hurler of the year; plays first International Rules series.

2005: Named Cork hurling captain; wins fourth Munster hurling title; wins third All-Ireland senior hurling title; plays second International Rules series; wins third successive All Star.

2006: Wins fifth Munster hurling title.

2007: Suspended for Munster semi-final with Waterford; wins interprovincial hurling title.

2008: Loses All-Ireland semi-final to Kilkenny and first contemplates retirement; plays in Shinty International against Scotland.

2009: Plays 50th hurling championship game for Cork in All-Ireland quarter-final loss to Galway.

2010: Cork to lose to Kilkenny in All-Ireland semi-final, and with that the apparent end of his career.