Seán Óg Ó hAilpín has officially announced that he will end his 14-year Cork senior hurling career. He also said that he had departed from the inter-county game content with his contribution.
Ó hAilpín was axed by Cork boss Denis Walsh in October and there was a stong reaction to the fact that Ó hAilpín would not be joining the squad in 2011. However Ó hAilpín is determined that he will move on and focus on the other areas in his life.
"I think it’s no hidden secret now, I’m not going to be involved next year. Whether I agree with it or not, I just have to accept it and move on. Once I know in my own head that it wasn’t me that pulled the plug on it, I’ll move on. Look that was in October, it’s December now and life is moving on for Sean Óg,” he said speaking to the Irish Examiner.
"You’d look back and wonder did you make a contribution because it’s a team sport, it’s not an individual sport. And I’m happy enough that I did make a contribution. So I’ll walk away happy. I saw it as a job but it was a labour of love and I got great enjoyment out of it. The 14 years did go by fairly quickly. But if I had another 14 years, I’d do it all over again.
"I’ll look forward to the other parts of life that will probably open up for me now. I look forward to spending time with the people who have suffered because of my intercounty career. My girlfriend Siobhán has put up with a lot and stuck with me through thick and thin. For once this year we can plan a holiday and actually go away, and not have to think about bringing boots or runners to do a bit of training. As regards work as well, Ulster Bank have been great employers the last number of years, so I owe it to them now to get back to normality and start putting in the hours that are required there."
His departures was followed quickly by his younger brother Aisake. He returned to Australia, to the Melbourne District League, Maribyrnong Park.
Speaking at the Ambassador Hotel, in Cork, on Monday, Sean said his brother is relishing a second stint in Australian Rules.
"He’s flying it. It couldn’t be going better for him now. He’s in Australia, signed up with a Division 2 side. He’s working away. It was 30 degrees when I was talking to him now over the weekend and he was going to St Kilda beach. Look, he’s happy."
Now that Sean has some more free time his also plans to attend one of his brother Setanta’s AFL games in Melbourne. He said “I always said that I wanted to see Setanta’s games live in the season but I never got to do that. It’s depending on club championship fixtures but if there’s a lull there in May, June and July, I’m going to head over for two to three weeks and watch him play in the MCG. I’d look forward to that because as hard as it’s been for me and Aisake here, it’s been 20 times harder for him out there not having anyone to support him. He has his team-mates and the management but when things aren’t going well, you want your family to confide in."
Sean paid tribute to all the players he has toiled with at Cork since 1996. He said “The 14 years saw a lot of ups and downs. The upsides were winning titles and obviously there were low points. But, to be honest, you go beyond the winning and losing. What gives you the satisfaction is the people you share and enjoyed it with, and the characters you were with. Look I’ll never sit in a dressing-room again with the likes of Wayne Sherlock, Alan Browne, Brian Corcoran, Joe Deane, Diarmuid O’Sullivan and Donal Óg Cusack. There were many other players like that as well. Those guys are legends to me.
“I’ll look back on my career, and say ‘you were a lucky man to be sitting next to quality guys like that’. Those guys will do great for the rest of their lives, I know that. They did more than their duty of just playing the game. They treated the sport with the utmost respect."
He also explained that he will continue to play for his club next year. He said “I’ll still continue to play for Na Piarsaigh, who have probably suffered a small bit over the last few years because basically most of your energy is focused on the Cork setup. I’ll give full commitment to them now in hurling and football, and I’ll look forward to that."