Cork goalkeeper Micheál Aodh Martin is a major doubt for the county’s first round football qualifier on the June Bank Holiday weekend because of the groin injury that forced him out of the county's Munster semi-final defeat to Kerry.
A subsequent MRI scan showed significant damage to the muscles though Martin will not require surgery.
And while Martin has been making good progress on the rehab front over the past week, the county’s first-choice goalkeeper is against the clock to be right for Cork’s qualifier outing on Saturday, June 4.
Martin was withdrawn 24 minutes into the Munster semi-final, with Dylan Foley replacing the Nemo Rangers shot-stopper for what was his championship debut.
But in the event of Martin being ruled out for the June 4 qualifier, it could well be Foley’s Éire Óg clubmate Chris Kelly who deputises given the latter has returned to full fitness after a quad injury sidelined him in recent months.
Kelly started Cork’s Round 3 and 4 games in the Allianz League earlier this year, against Derry and Galway respectively, but had to be subbed off towards the end of the Galway defeat because of injury.
Absent for the remainder of the League and Cork’s championship opener, Kelly did play for his club, Éire Óg, in a league game over the weekend, signaling both his return to full fitness and availability for selection, if Martin is unable to make a full recovery in the coming weeks.
The four-week break between the 12-point Kerry defeat and first-round qualifier allows Cork to tend to an injury list that has proven a significant hindrance all-season long.
Corner-back Kevin Flahive is ruled out after the season-ending cruciate injury sustained against Kerry and it remains to be seen if either half-back Liam O’Donovan or midfielder Killian O’Hanlon will be in contention for selection on June 4.
O’Hanlon has not played for the county since rupturing his ACL at a Cork training session in April last year, while O’Donovan tore his hamstring at the end of Clonakilty’s county semi-final win over Douglas last November.
Ahead of the Kerry game, interim Cork manager John Cleary said the pair were back in training but that the provincial semi-final had come too soon for them. The first-round qualifier draw will take place next Monday morning, with Armagh, Clare, Cork, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Monaghan, and Tyrone the eight teams in the bowl. The four winners will then progress to meet the four beaten provincial finalists.