| 15.2°C Dublin

Rebels too sharp for Tipp but lose Donal Og to serious injury

VICTORY came at a cost for Cork in yesterday's Allianz National Hurling League Division 1 semi-final against Tipperary as team captain Donal Og Cusack suffered an injury that looks to have ended his season.

Cusack crumpled in a heap at the Town End goalmouth after dealing with a high ball and was stretchered off in the 18th minute with suspected Achilles tendon damage.

The Cloyne veteran (35) was replaced by Anthony Nash, who scored a second-half point from a long-distance free, and Cork manager Jimmy Barry-Murphy was left fearing the worst.

A ruptured Achilles tendon, if confirmed, will see Cusack play no part in Cork's League final showdown with Kilkenny on May 6 and he will be ruled out of the entire championship campaign also.

That's a devastating blow for the Rebels as they have built up a considerable head of steam during Barry-Murphy's second coming as manager.

Once again, the former dual star has put together a team brimming with youthful exuberance and they finished brilliantly in the final quarter to defeat Tipp by seven points in front of 15,424 spectators in Thurles.

But Cusack's injury cast a dark shadow over this win as long-serving team doctor Con Murphy revealed to JBM afterwards that he's fearing the worst.

Barry-Murphy admitted: "Not good. He's getting an examination tomorrow (Monday) but it looks like he is out for the summer. Dr Con 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 (Cusack). 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'."

Cork will drive on and a pleased Barry-Murphy insisted: "I think we are on the right road to being really competitive."

Twice in the second half, his team responded impressively to Tipperary goals and after Luke O'Farrell buried Cork's 57th minute goal, they never looked back. JBM nodded: "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."

Tipp boss Declan Ryan reflected: "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."

The sides shared 20 points in the opening half and Tipp were in a good position when Brian O'Meara barrelled past Shane O'Neill and Stephen McDonnell to squeeze home a 46th-minute goal. But Cork hit back with two unanswered points and refused to go under whenever they found themselves in a tricky position.

Ryan admitted: "Cork looked a lot sharper than us today."

Tipp have five weeks to sort things out before they face Limerick in the Munster SHC quarter-final at Semple Stadium on May 27.