John Galvin's worst fears may be realised in Dublin tomorrow when he undergoes a scan to determine if he has sustained a recurrence of the cruciate ligament injury that kept him out of last year's championship.
The Limerick midfield powerhouse (32) had been making great progress since returning to action last month until he sustained the damage 20 minutes into Sunday's Allianz League Division 4 draw with Fermanagh.
Limerick's medical staff are fearful that the influential Galvin may have suffered a recurrence, and a consultation has been organised with his surgeon Ray Moran in the Santry Sports Clinic tomorrow.
"I don't want to start talking in terms of John as being gone yet. He has a scan tomorrow and until then we can't be certain of anything," said Limerick manager Maurice Horan.
Horan admitted that Galvin (pictured below) was "in shock" as he sat in the dugout after being substituted at the weekend.
"He has put in such a huge effort to get himself right. He's in great shape. Just before it happened he had scored a point and had got up to make three or four fine catches.
"The work he put in, even in the first two months of this year, was phenomenal. He has done everything right and really deserves a break," said Horan.
However, privately Limerick are very concerned that he has suffered a recurrence and will miss the remainder of the season. Galvin tore his cruciate for the first time in a challenge match against Down last May.
He quickly resolved to returning to action after surgery despite the many years of service behind him.
Quick recurrences of cruciate ligament tears within 12 months of surgery have become more commonplace in recent years and a real concern for the GAA, which recorded some 470 cruciate claims according to their insurance figures in 2011.
Kildare's Dermot Earley underwent a second operation to repair damage to one of his cruciate ligaments last May, just months after surgery to correct his initial problem. His county colleague Michael Conway didn't require a second operation but endured complications within 12 months of his initial surgery in 2009, which kept him out until the middle of the 2011 season. Earley has only returned in recent weeks.
Dublin's Mark Davoren ruptured his cruciate against Meath in 2009 and suffered a recurrence almost a year later while playing a challenge match for his club Kilmacud Crokes. He has not made it back on to the Crokes senior team and his prospects of doing so appear to be diminishing.
In an interview with the Irish Independent last year, Davoren admitted he had tried to get back to action too quickly and paid the price.
A pilot scheme took place in UCD late last year to determine if a particular prehab routine tailored for Gaelic games can reduce the problem. Some experts believe an imbalance in the type of strength and conditioning work being done on the legs is responsible for the excessive number of repeat injuries within a short space of time.
Dublin have had their fair share of repeat cruciate misery within a short timeframe. James Brogan, cousin of Alan, Bernard and Paul, tore his cruciate in a club game in May 2010 and suffered a recurrence during last year's NFL. Paul Brogan also had two cruciate operations in 2008 and 2009, albeit on different knees.
Meath's David Bray is still working his way back to full fitness after sustaining his second tear in March 2011, almost 12 months to the day since his initial injury was sustained.
Kerry are still reeling from David Moran's setback in February when he tore the cruciate on his left knee while training with his club, 10 months after his first tear in a league match against Monaghan last April.