CORK boss Jimmy Barry-Murphy voiced fears that veteran goalkeeper and team captain Donal Og Cusack will be ruled out for the entire championship season following yesterday's Allianz NHL Division 1 semi-final victory over Tipperary.
Cusack was stretchered off after just 18 minutes with suspected Achilles tendon damage and was replaced by Anthony Nash, who scored a point from a long-range free in the second half.
Barry-Murphy admitted: "Not good. He's getting an examination (today) but it looks like he is out for the summer.
"Dr Con (Murphy) just told us that he's gone to Dublin and it looks like an Achilles tendon problem.
"It's very disappointing and shattering for himself.
"We are disappointed for him. He's been a great captain for us, a great leader for the players in the dressing-room.
"At half-time he said 'go away and look after the players -- don't mind about me. Cork hurling is all that matters and drive on with the team.'"
On a positive note, Barry-Murphy stated that he was "delighted" with their seven-point victory over Tipperary.
He said: "I think we are on the right road to being really competitive.
"It gives another competitive game (before championship) and we're looking forward to it immensely.
"What I was delighted about today was that when they got a score or a goal we responded straight away. That was very, very encouraging.
"Straight away from their goal we took a quick puck-out and got a great point."
Tipperary boss Declan Ryan admitted that his team produced a worryingly "flat performance" just five weeks before the Munster SHC quarter-final clash with Limerick at Semple Stadium.
Ryan said: "I suppose from a Tipp perspective it was a very flat performance. We never seemed to ignite at any stage during the game.
"The first half was pretty average hurling I'd say on both sides and we were probably lucky to get in level at half-time."
"It was very flat finishing up. It looked like, into the second half, we were getting back into the game but, in fairness, Cork looked a lot sharper than us today.
"They moved the ball very well, they took their scores and when they were on top they drove on."
Brian O'Meara's 46th-minute goal could have given Tipp a real platform but Cork responded with two quick-fire points from William Egan and Pa Cronin to move a point clear.
Ryan reflected: "They say you're most vulnerable after you score and that was certainly the case for us today.
"I think we'd be very disappointed overall with concentration levels and our ball control, the amount of energy we showed out on the field. "Obviously, we have a lot of work to do."
Tipp badly missed the industry of injured Patrick 'Bonner' Maher throughout the entire National League campaign.
Maher suffered a knee injury when Tipp played Cork in the Waterford Crystal League and has been out of action since.
But the Lorrha-Dorrha clubman had the injury scanned last Friday and is expected to receive good news later today.
Ryan said: "We'll know on Monday. Hopefully he'll get the results of his scan and we'll know how he's fixed after that."
Searching for positives, Ryan heaped praise on full-forward O'Meara, who scored 1-2.
"I think Brian O'Meara played well, I think Conor O'Brien played well in the second half there. "Certainly there are positives. James Woodlock did a lot of hurling there for 45 minutes. It's difficult to look for positives when Cork are running away with it at the end there, but that's the way it goes."
Tipp looked well below par all through the game, but Ryan insisted: "Certainly we didn't overdo it in training during the week. I suppose these guys have a lot of work done but that lack of energy is a mental thing; it's not physical anyway.
"Unfortunately, it seems to strike at Tipp every now and then and when it does we can look very ordinary, so it's something we have to guard against in the future."