Down hit by injury scare to captain Rodgers
DOWN'S decision to go ahead with a full round of club championship action last weekend may have backfired badly, as captain Ambrose Rodgers has sustained a knee injury that leaves him doubtful for the All-Ireland semi-final against Kildare on August 29.
Rodgers limped off in a club game last Sunday and although Down initially played down his injury, he is going for a scan in the coming days, which indicates it could be serious.
Any injury to the big midfielder would be a massive blow for manager James McCartan.
Rodgers, who ruptured his spleen in a qualifier game in 2008 and missed Down's Division 2 league final loss to Armagh this year with a foot injury, has been back to his best form this summer.
His strong midfield partnership with championship rookie Kalum King has provided vital leadership for the Mournemen, who shocked so many by beating Kerry in the All-Ireland quarter-final.
McCartan had a nervous time last weekend when virtually his entire panel lined out in club championship action, but everyone else appears to have come through unscathed.
Rodgers' club Longstone, who beat Leitrim, were one of the last in action and he was forced off after 48 minutes. He reportedly sustained the injury on hitting the ground, had treatment at the time and stayed on for another 10 minutes before being replaced.
McCartan did not make any request to get last weekend's games deferred, saying "the clubs have been very understanding of our cause up to now." He admitted that he might have intervened if the time between their quarter-final victory and semi-final had been shorter.
"If there had been a three-week gap, I might have had different thoughts, but the fact that it is a four-week gap gives the players time to get back down to earth, back into their club scene and get a dose of reality," he said ahead of last weekend's fixtures.
There has, significantly, been no club action in Kildare since their team went on the back-door odyssey that has seen them play seven championship games this summer.
The first two rounds of the Kildare championship were played before May 9 and the third round was due to be played next weekend, but that has been postponed indefinitely. To placate clubs, the county board have decided to organise an impromptu 'interim' competition over the next four weeks, which will not involve any of Kieran McGeeney's squad.
County secretary Kathleen O'Neill said interest has been high.
"We are organising a competition at senior, intermediate and junior level and while not every club has entered, I would say the uptake is around 90pc," she said.
Of the other All-Ireland semi-finalists, only Cork had local champ-ionship games last weekend, but their players sustained no additional injuries.
One consolation to football boss Conor Counihan is that the Rebel hurlers' demise means dual star Eoin Cadogan will be available as cover for injury doubt Graham Canty.