Cork’s O’Neill suffers third cruciate injury
Dublin forward Kilkenny out for up to six weeks with medial ligament damage
Colm O'Neill of Cork is stretchered off in the win over Donegal last weekend. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
If the timing of the latest injury blow to Cork football wasn't bad enough the cruelty of it certainly is, a third cruciate ligament tear condemning forward Colm O'Neill to another extensive period of rehabilitation, and almost certainly ending his interest in the rest of the season.
O'Neill had only just returned to match fitness from the same injury sustained in 2011, and was likewise sidelined for an entire season after first tearing his cruciate ligament in 2008: the 24 year-old took the knock early on in Saturday evening's win over Donegal, his worst fears then realised yesterday following a full MRI scan.
"The news of this third cruciate injury comes as a huge disappointment to Colm himself, to the Cork team and management, and to his club," said a statement from the Cork county board. "All in Cork GAA wish him well in his recovery."
O'Neill was set make a big impact on Cork's remaining games in the Allianz Football League, including this Sunday's showdown against old rivals Kerry - the game that might well decide whether or not Cork make the semi-finals, and whether Kerry can still fight off relegation.
Cork are still without forwards Ciaran Sheehan, who has torn ligaments in his shoulder, and Donncha O'Connor, who has an Achilles tendon strain, with Patrick Kelly still on the long term absentee list, with a hit injury. Manager Conor Counihan has turned around Cork's poor start to the league, and two more points against Killarney on Sunday will almost certainly leave them on course for a fourth successive league title.
Kerry's quest at this stage, however, is all about survival: yet manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice is still resisting any temptation to recall Colm "Gooch" Cooper, at least not before their final game against Tyrone, on April 7th. However, the return of players such as Paul Galvin and Declan O'Sullivan, both of whom featured in last Saturday's win over Down, has certainly given them greater hope and determination - as indeed does the chance to test that against their closest rivals, Cork. O'Sullivan player from the startm hitting 0-3 of Kerry's 0-11 total, while Galvin came on for the last 25 minutes and is now likely to start against Cork.
Meanwhile, Dublin's quest to seal one of the semi-final berths must continue without the services of Ciarán Kilkenny, the 19 year-old forward ruled out for between four to six weeks after sustaining a medial ligament knee sprain early in Saturday's one-point defeat to Tyrone.
Dublin confirmed the nature of the injury yesterday, which effectively rules Kilkenny out of the rest of the league campaign, although he should be back in ample time for the championship.
Manager Jim Gavin rested forward Bernard Brogan last weekend, but will be recalling him for Saturday's meeting with Down in Croke Park - where two points would ensure Dublin a place in the semi-finals. Paul Flynn will also be okay to play after the hamstring strain he picked up during the game isn't as bad as feared. However full back Rory O'Carroll is still sidelined due to the minor ankle surgery he underwent last week, forcing him out of the Tyrone game too.
Finally, Kilkenny defenders Jackie Tyrrell and Paul Murphy will both miss the last two games of the Allianz Hurling League after sustaining hamstring injuries in the win over Waterford on Monday, although could be back for the play-off stages, should Kilkenny make it that far.