DONAL ÓG CUSACK’S future Cork playing career is uncertain after it emerged tonight that he will not be part of the county’s panel for this year’s Allianz hurling league.
Manager Jimmy Barry-Murphy is set to operate with only two goalkeepers – Anthony Nash and Darren McCarthy – for the campaign which begins on February 23rd.
Barry-Murphy informed Cork radio station 96FM that he had met with Cusack earlier in the week and informed him of his decision.
The Cork boss did stress that the composition of the panel has yet to be finalized and that the panel will continue to be reviewed on an ongoing basis.
But the move places the future playing involvement of Cusack, who turns 36 in March, with Cork in doubt.
Cusack last played for Cork in last April’s Allianz Division 1 Hurling League semi-final against Tipperary in Semple Stadium.
However his season was ended that day when he ruptured his Achilles Tendon early in the game and was subsequently ruled out for the rest of the 2012 campaign.
His rehabilitation from that injury has continued while this morning he departed for New York as part of an 18-strong party lead by GPA figures that will be helping to rebuild the youth sports facilities in hurricane-hit Breezy Point.
In Cusack’s absence last year Nash stepped into the void and established himself as the county’s goalkeeper. The Kanturk man’s excellence was rewarded when he won an Allstar award last October.
McCarthy, who won a Fitzgibbon Cup medal with UCC last year and has impressed at underage level for Cork, is from the Ballymartle club and is a highly-rated goalkeeping prospect.
Donal Óg Cusack in action for Cork. Pic: INPHO/Billy Stickland.
Cusack made his inter-county senior debut in 1996 in an Oireachtas Cup game against Tipperary and in 1999 made his senior championship debut in the Munster semi-final against Waterford.
Since he forged a reputation as a top-class goalkeeper in hurling with his innovative puckout strategies becoming a notable facet of his play.
He also made headlines off the pitch for his work with the GPA, having been a leading figure in the development of the player’s body. In addition the Cloyne man found himself centrally involved in the conflicts the Cork hurlers found themselves embroiled in with their county board.
Cusack has won a huge array of awards as he garnered three All-Ireland senior medals (1999, 2004 and 2005), five Munster senior medals and a National League award in 1998.
At underage level with Cork, Cusack won minor medals – All-Ireland (1) and Munster (2) – and U21 medals – All-Ireland (2) and Munster (3). The Cloyne man also won Allstar honours in 1999 and 2000.