Cruciate jinx hits O'Neill for third time
CORK STAR Colm O'Neill's season is over after it was confirmed he has suffered cruciate ligament damage for a third time.
But there is much better news for Ciaran Kilkenny, who has sustained just strained medial ligament after he twisted his knee in the early stages of Dublin's match with Tyrone on Saturday. A Dublin spokesman confirmed that Kilkenny will be out for four to six weeks, ruling him out of the remaining group league games against Down and Donegal and probably a league semi-final as well.
But if Dublin qualified for a league final at the end of April, Kilkenny could make it back within that time frame.
O'Neill's misfortune is compounded by the fact it is the third time for this injury to hit him in just under five years. His left leg gave way during the first half of Saturday's league match against Donegal.
After a scan in Waterford and a consultation with surgeon Tadgh O'Sullivan, O'Neill tweeted that his "worst fears" were confirmed and he was "gutted."
He had previously torn the cruciate ligament in his right knee twice, the first time while playing a club match with Ballyclough in 2008 and then in March 2011 when playing for Cork against Galway in a league match.
He recovered from these setbacks, however, and picked up his first All Star in 2012. All the indications were that he had found a similar rich vein of form in this year's league and even in the early stages of Saturday's game, he had curled over two impressive points.
His loss is hugely significant to Cork ahead of this year's championship.
Meanwhile, Shane Enright does not expect Colm Cooper to return for Kerry until the last league match against Tyrone. Cooper's return to training is imminent, but the Kerry corner-back doubts he will be available for Sunday's clash with Cork in Tralee. Enright says the return of senior players has lifted the mood in the squad.
"The return of the senior players have given us a big boost. Declan O'Sullivan was back last weekend; Anthony Maher was back as well and Paul Galvin came on for the last 25 minutes. They have a lot of experience, they are great men to have in the dressing-room. Then we still have 'Gooch' to come back and Bryan Sheehan, but 'Gooch' will probably not be back until the trip to Tyrone. That will be a tough place to have to get two points."
• TYRONE goalkeeper John Devine has announced his inter-county retirement. Devine won three All-Ireland titles with the county.