CORK HURLING MANAGER Kieran Kingston has described as ‘extremely difficult’ the decision to cut seven players from their panel in the wake of their league campaign and insists the door is open for those players to be brought back in to the Rebels squad.
Kingston revealed that ‘difficult calls and difficult discussions’ took place as the experienced quartet of Shane O’Neill, Patrick Cronin, Stephen Moylan and Cian McCarthy were released since last Sunday’s relegation playoff win over Galway.
The Cork boss also confirmed that Paudie O’Sullivan ‘opted out’ of the squad while youngster Cian Buckley and Cathal Cormack are the others to depart.
Sean O’Donoghue (Inniscarra), Luke Meade (Newcestown), Chris O’Leary (Valley Rovers) and Michael O’Halloran (Blackrock) have been drafted into the Cork panel as they ramp up their preparations for their Munster hurling championship opener against Tipperary on 22 May.
“We said after the league that we would review the panel,” Kingston told The42 this afternoon.
“That’s what we did. We said irrespective of how the league went and whether we lost or won on Sunday, it was our intention to review the panel.
“We did that coming up to Sunday and in particular after Sunday’s game. We said we’d reduce our core championship panel down to 30 for the moment. There was seven players released for different reasons.
“Paudie O’Sullivan opted out. That brought it down to 26 and we brought in four players onto the 30 for the moment and we’ll continue to review that.
“(They’re gone) back to the clubs and back to the Cork intermediates and back with the Cork U21’s, there’s a mixture of it. There’s Paudie – he opted himself, Pa Cronin, Shane O’Neill, Stephen Moylan, Cian Buckley, Cathal Cormack and Cian McCarthy.
“The four we’ve added, there’s Sean O’Donoghue and Luke Meade from the minor team of 2014, and Chris O’Leary and Michael O’Halloran from the minor team of 2015.”
Kingston paid tribute to the service the departed players had given to Cork hurling and admitted it was a tough decision to trim their squad.
“Very difficult decisions, particularly when you’ve guys that have given huge service to Cork hurling for many years and captained Cork and were stalwarts for a good number of years and have a lot of great games played for Cork.
“It was difficult calls and difficult discussions to be fair on both sides. People don’t realise the commitment they give and the sacrifices they make to play inter-county.
“The commitment that’s required of an inter-county hurler on and off the field is huge. This is a very difficult thing to do, especially when guys are there a long time.
“It becomes a huge part of their lives and it takes a while for that to change and a while to adjust to that. We have to be respectful of that and we are.
“The other side is we have to try and do what we feel is best to be competitive as we can for 2016 and also to look to the future and how we can build for the future as well.”
The Cork management intend to keep the panel open for a potential return of the players in question.
“At the same time, we wouldn’t be closing the door on anybody,” stated Kingston.
“It’s not that these guys are in their mid 30’s or anything.
“No question about that, the panel is open. We’ve guys on an extended panel that are doing their Leaving Cert that we’re keeping an eye on from last year’s minor team. They’ve been in and out to us.
“The panel is open all the time to the guys that have gone and to other guys because we don’t have fellas on the sidelines with ten All-Ireland medals or four All-Ireland medals or anything like that. We have to do that.”
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