Kilkenny's 2008 All-Ireland-winning captain James 'Cha' Fitzpatrick is unlikely to feature for his club Ballyhale Shamrocks in their All-Ireland SHC semi-final against Portumna on February 22, after being admitted to hospital at the weekend suffering from mumps.
Fitzpatrick took ill late last week and was a notable absentee for a challenge game involving his club and the Carlow senior hurlers last Thursday at IT Carlow, which Ballyhale won comfortably.
'Cha' was admitted to Ardkeen Hospital in Waterford city on Sunday suffering from mumps - something which is likely to keep the three-time All-Star out of action for at least a month.
Ballyhale are aiming to leapfrog Offaly kingpins Birr at the top of the All-Ireland roll of honour, seeking their fifth title.
It is a major headache for Shamrocks manager Maurice Aylward ahead of the semi-final.
Kilkenny squad member and club-mate TJ Reid confirmed Cha's absence at today's Ulster Bank Fitzgibbon and Sigerson Cup launch at Croke Park,
"Cha is in hospital at the moment with the mumps - hopefully we get him back soon. He'll have very little hurling in him but it's Cha so who knows.
"Hopefully we get him back because to lose Cha ahead of the Portumna game it's a big loss," Reid said.
Fitzpatrick turns 24 this Saturday and is one of a number of Ballyhale players, including Reid, Henry Shefflin and Michael Fennelly, that will be aiming to return to the Kilkenny squad following an extended run with the club.