The future of All-Ireland winning captain Willie O'Connor's inter-county hurling career is in doubt today after the corner-back was left out of Kilkenny's 29-man championship squad. O'Connor has not featured for the Cats during their recent Allianz National Hurling League campaign by his own choice and it is now uncertain whether or not the Glenmore man will be involved in Kilkenny's defence of their All-Ireland title this summer.

O'Connor did line out for his club in Kilkenny's county championship last weekend and it was expected that his name would be included in the squad announced today. However, it has been reported that O'Connor has not decided to retire from the inter-county scene and may yet feature in Kilkenny's line-up when they take to the field in the Guinness Leinster Hurling semi-finals on June 10.

Meanwhile, today's announcement sees four new faces for the Cats' 2001 campaign. David Buggy (Erin's Own), Dermot Grogan (James Stephens), Tom Drennan (Young Irelands) and Alan Geoghegan (O'Loughlins) have played for Kilkenny in the League this year but will be making their championship debuts this summer. Two members of last year's panel, Aidan Cummins and JP Corcoran, are not included in this year's squad.

Filed by Amanda Fennelly