Ben is not ruled out of O'Neill's Lily plans
Ben McCormack could still have a part to play for Kildare senior footballers this summer, according to their manager Cian O'Neill.
The talented Sarsfields forward started four of Kildare's NFL Division 1 games this spring but McCormack has recently commenced his final block release for an electrician's apprenticeship in Sligo and his college schedule prevents him from travelling back for midweek training sessions.
O'Neill confirmed yesterday that McCormack was not part of Kildare's training panel during April but said that reports he would not play this summer may be premature.
"Basically what Ben and I said was 'let's get through the month of April and then see where we are'," O'Neill explained.
"And basically the reason for that is, Ben is handcuffed to Sligo in terms of his studies, which are very important. He doesn't finish until six every day.
"We'll review that situation next week. But it's tough. For Ben, this is his last block release.
"So to ask him 'can you not put it back until November?' you're essentially asking him to put his career on hold for four months or six months.
"And that's not fair either. So it's something we're keeping the communication lines open for. It's a discussion we'll have after the weekend."
O'Neill also stressed that neither relegation nor recent rumours of indiscipline had affected his squad's preparations ahead of their Leinster SFC campaign.
O'Neill had already publicly denied that there had been a disciplinary issue arising from their weekend trip to Kerry for their sixth round league match in Tralee, a result that relegated Kildare to Division 2.
Local speculation suggested that up to 10 players were not considered for their subsequent game against Galway because of an issue that arose after the Kerry defeat.
"We knew that night that we were relegated.
"So we agreed as a management that we were going to have a couple of drinks," O'Neill explained.
"We did. We organised the hotel and the whole lot after the match.
"We were still in with a shout of staying up if we'd have won the match but we didn't, so we had a night out and we changed the team for the following week
"These things grow legs. But it didn't impact the squad."