Footballers can move on without Cadogan while Donncha O'Connor takes an extended break

NEW Cork football boss Ronan McCarthy says the Rebels must put the recent shock loss of Eoin Cadogan behind them as they fine-tune their preparations for next year’s campaign.

Having featured with the Cork footballers over the past four years, Cadogan stunned GAA followers around the country last week when he opted to link up with new Rebels’ hurling supremo John Meyler for the 2018 programme of matches instead of his Douglas clubmate McCarthy.

“Dual players like Eoin Cadogan have the opportunity to play both codes, and he has exercised his right to play with the Cork hurlers next year,” said former Rebels’ star corner-back McCarthy on the decision taken by the 31-year-old Douglas clubman who lined out at centre-back his in his county’s one point defeat by Mayo in the fourth round of the All-Ireland qualifiers last July.

“I don’t know but maybe the fact that his brother (forward Alan) is involved with the Cork hurlers was a factor in Eoin’s decision.

“But either way I respect the decision that Eoin has taken and we’ve got to move on and prepare for next year’s competitions as best as we can,” added McCarthy, who has succeeded Peadar Healy, after his two-year stint in the Cork hot seat.

In addition to Eoin Cadogan, the new Cork supremo, who lined out with the Rebels from 1997 to 2002, winning two Munster medals, will have to find replacements for veteran duo Ken O’Halloran and Alan O’Connor for next year’s campaign. After many years of outstanding service for the Leesiders, goalkeeper O’Halloran and midfielder O’Connor have decided to call time on their inter-county careers.

Prior to establishing himself as Cork’s first choice netminder, Bishopstown clubman O’Halloran served as understudy to the long-serving Alan Quirke for many years. This year’s Munster final defeat by Kerry marked O’Halloran’s final starting role for Cork, before O’Donovan Rossa’s Ryan Price was handed the No 1 jersey for the subsequent clash against Mayo.

For many years, Alan O’Connor formed the Cork midfield partnership with Aidan Walsh, with his last appearance coming as a used substitute in the Mayo tie.

An All-Ireland medalist in 2010, O’Connor was born in Dublin and lived in the westside suburb of Lucan and played with the local club, Lucan Sarsfields, until his Cork-born father and Baldoyle, Dublin native mother moved to west Cork when he was 11 years of age.

As well as the departure of O’Halloran and Alan O’Connor, some doubt surrounds the inter-county future of veteran forward Donncha O’Connor.

“Donncha O’Connor is taking an extended break at the moment, and he won’t be making a decision about next year until sometime in the future,” said McCarthy on the 36-year-old Ballyvourney clubman. O'Connor made his inter-county debut back in 2006 in the wake of not featuring at either minor or U21 level for his county.

A definite absentee for the opening round of this year’s League campaign, however, will be James Loughrey and the defender could be joined on the sideline by forward Brian O’Driscoll.

“James Loughrey is definitely out of the first league game as he won’t have sufficiently recovered from an ankle injury,” pointed out McCarthy on the former Antrim player.

“But there’s a chance that Brian O’Driscoll might be ready for the opening game as he is making good progress from an operation on his shoulder which went very successfully.” 

Due to the withdrawal of Kerry, Limerick and Tipperary, the forthcoming McGrath Cup will feature only three counties – Clare, Cork and Waterford. But notwithstanding this, the Cork boss is looking forward very forward to the competition.

“It’s very good preparation for the League to have the two matches against Waterford and Clare, and hopefully we will have a third game in the competition (in the final),” he said.

“As long as I’m involved in this position, Cork will always play in the McGrath Cup.”

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