Competition for Cork number one spot heats up as Cusack confirms absence


DONAL ÓG Cusack’s operation on a ruptured left Achilles tendon will ensure two immediate developments. Patrick Horgan (23) of Glen Rovers will captain the Cork hurlers in the 2012 championship, while an interesting battle is about to commence for the famous striped number one jersey.

Anthony Nash (27) showed well when replacing Cusack against Tipperary in Sunday’s national league semi-final victory, even scoring a point from a placed ball, but that’s no guarantee manager Jimmy Barry Murphy will retain him for the league final against Kilkenny on May 6th.

Martin Coleman jnr appears to be the favourite to replace Cusack against Kilkenny and for the Munster championship semi-final against Tipperary or Limerick on June 24th. Coleman was not selected over the weekend as the management employ a rotational system for the replacement goalkeepers and it was Nash’s turn.

The 29-year-old’s father, Martin snr, was goalkeeper on Cork’s three-in-a-row teams of 1976 to 1978. Like Nash, Coleman has just one championship appearance, coming on when Cusack was red- carded in the 2008 qualifier against Galway.

Nash also has hurling goalkeeper genes as his uncle Tommy Quaid played with distinction for Limerick from 1976 to 1993. His only previous championship outing resulted in the concession of five goals against Waterford in the 2007 Munster semi-final.

However, there were mitigating circumstances as full back Diarmuid “The Rock” O’Sullivan, Seán Óg Ó hAilpín and Cusack were serving suspensions for their roles in the pre-game melee with Clare players earlier that summer.

The Kanturk netminder was called into action after 17 minutes of last Sunday’s game in Thurles after Cusack leaped to stop a long-range shot by Tipperary’s Thomas Stapleton, damaging his Achilles upon landing. The 35-year-old still made two strides and batted the sliotar away from the onrushing Brian O’Meara before collapsing in agony.

He was immediately transported up to Dublin and examined by Dr Éanna Falvey, head of sports medicine at the Sports Surgery Clinic in Santry.

Cusack confirmed the rupture via his Twitter account yesterday, before being operated on by consultant orthopaedic surgeon Johnny McKenna. He also felt the need to give thanks to the “medics, officials and gardaí” working in and around Semple Stadium.

Cusack will be absent for approximately six months so his next chance of featuring for Cork will not be until the 2013 National League.

It will Cork’s first championship campaign without him since succeeding Ger Cunningham for the 1999 All-Ireland winning season. He won an All Star in that first year and again in 2006, with two more Celtic Crosses gathered in 2004 and 2005, along with his five Munster titles.

Another veteran, Niall McCarthy, was also replaced by leaving cert student Darren Sweetnam on 66 minutes but his calf injury is not deemed serious.

Meanwhile, Dublin hurling trio Tomás Brady, Stephen Hiney and Conal Keaney are all on the mend from serious knee ligament injuries. All three are expected to feature for their clubs, Brady with Na Fianna and the other pair for Ballyboden St Enda’s, this weekend.