Tommy Dickson/INPHO Alan O'Connor has donned the Cork jersey for the last time.
# Great servant
2010 Cork All-Ireland winner retires from inter-county game
Alan O’Connor has stepped away from the set-up, and a number of other players will not be returning for 2018.

CORK FOOTBALLER ALAN O’Connor has retired from inter-county action.

Midfielder O’Connor had previously opted out at the end of 2013 but returned to the Rebels’ panel in 2015.

However, new Cork coach Ronan McCarthy has confirmed that the St Colum’s clubman has departed, while there will be other changes to the set-up for next year too.

“Alan has retired from intercounty football,” he said.

“We have other people, people with a different profile, that we’ve left go from the panel. Some have retired, some we’d have felt would have been on the panel a long time without making the breakthrough, while others we felt might benefit from going back to the club, or maybe back to U20 level.

“There’s a natural timing to these things. It was Alan’s decision, in his case, and number one I respect that, and number two, I think it was the right thing.”

Others not returning are Tadhg Mac Cárthaighs player Colm O’Driscoll, Tom Clancy of Clonakilty, O’Donovan Rossa’s Donal Óg Hodnett, Niall Coakley, who plays his football with St Jude’s in Dublin, and Douglas’s Kevin Conlon.

Cork haven’t reached the All-Ireland SFC quarter-finals since 2014. McCarthy, who was coach to Brian Cuthbert on that occasion, doesn’t think there is any one special ingredient which will turn them into contenders overnight.

“It’s about messages you’re giving players over a period of time,” he said, “the quality of the work you do with them – it’s having the belief in the value of what you’re doing, that that will eventually make a difference.

“And we in the management have to back ourselves, that we’re confident we can make a difference, and I hope it will. At the end of the day you can get excited about backroom teams and so on, but it’s the quality of the work done on the pitch, night after night, that will eventually make the difference.

“Nothing you do the week coming up to a big match will have a huge bearing. All the work has been done.”

McCarthy is joined by selectors Eamonn Ryan, Ciarán O’Sullivan and Seán Hayes, with the latter also acting as coach to the county U20 team. He intends to keep things compact, though.

“A lot of intercounty teams have backroom teams now,” he said.

“I think, particularly starting out, let’s keep things simple. We’ll see how it develops but it wouldn’t be my plan to have a massive backroom team.

“You don’t want the messages diluted or too many people delivering them. We won’t need to hire a second bus or anything like that.”

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