IN A painful postscript to their weekend defeat against Dublin, Donegal are resigned to being without Michael Murphy for their Allianz League relegation showdown with Armagh.
There are also fears that the Donegal talisman could struggle to make it back for their Ulster SFC opener away to Cavan on May 20 (in Kingspan Breffni Park) following a knee operation yesterday.
Murphy suffered the injury at a critical juncture of last Saturday's Division One clash against Dublin in Croke Park, at a time when he was leading a second half charge by the visitors.
But once Murphy was forced to hobble off the pitch after 59 minutes, Donegal lost their momentum and Dublin ultimately ran out nine-point winners (2-16 to 0-13) thanks to a brace of injury-time goals for Bryan Cullen and Diarmuid Connolly.
It has now emerged that the Donegal target man underwent surgery at the Santry Sports Clinic yesterday.
He will definitely miss Donegal's last-round league clash at home to Armagh on Sunday week - the losers face probable relegation.
He could also be under pressure to make the opening defence of Donegal's Ulster title at Breffni Park.
The exact nature of Murphy's knee injury has yet to be confirmed, although reports suggest he sustained damage to his lateral ligament and is facing a likely recuperation period of six-eights weeks.
It is the second time this season that Murphy has undergone surgery and the fifth time in all during his career.
In January he had an operation to repair a Gilmore's Groin injury, which left him out of action until late February.