THE CORK hurlers have been dealt a serious blow ahead of their Munster SHC clash against Clare later this month with the news that rising star Paudie O’Sullivan has ruptured a cruciate ligament and will not play again this season.
O’Sullivan, the youngest brother of star full-back Diarmuid, injured his leg against Waterford in the Waterford Crystal League in February and the initial diagnosis was a calf muscle tear, which left the Cork management team confident of being able to call on the player for the Clare game on May 27.
However, a scan yesterday confirmed that O’Sullivan’s injury is far more serious and he now faces an entire season on the sidelines.
“It’s heartbreaking for Paudie, he’s one of the most talented prospects around,” said Cork selector Martin Bowen last night.
“What’s most important is his health, that he makes a full recovery, and we’re all 100% behind him. He’s facing his Leaving Cert and after that he’ll have an operation on the knee. It’s a blow for us because he was certainly part of our plans for the Championship, but the most important thing is his health in the long term.”
Earlier scans did not reveal the seriousness of the injury. Though restricted in his ability to train, after physiotherapy O’Sullivan attempted a comeback with his club, Cloyne, last week, but only lasted 15 minutes before being forced to come off.
O’Sullivan has not yet made his Championship debut with the Leesiders, but he is regarded as one of the best attacking prospects in the country. He scored 1-8 in last year’s county final against Erin’s Own (his third consecutive county senior final, despite being only 18 years old) and ended the season as the senior championship’s top scorer, with 5-24.
O’Sullivan led Midleton CBS to Harty Cup glory last season and when moved from wing-back to full-forward in the All-Ireland minor hurling semi-final, he almost won the game with two late points.
The Cloyne player impressed earlier this season in challenge games for Cork and with the Rebels in the market for goal-scoring forwards, he was regarded as a serious contender for a starting spot against Clare. However, the lengthy convalescence and rehabilitation which follows a cruciate operation means both Cork and Cloyne will have to plan without him until 2008.
Cork boss Gerald McCarthy and his fellow selectors may now hand Patrick Cronin of Bishopstown a first championship start against the Banner County.
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