Pauric Mahony will undergo surgery later today on a broken tibia that will rule him out of Waterford's championship campaign.
Waterford manager Derek McGrath confirmed that Mahony would not be featuring in the championship and held the "optimistic" view that he might make it back for the latter stages of Ballygunner's club championship campaign.
Mahony, who turns 23 today, sustained the break in a club match against Ballyduff Upper on Saturday night. The match was delayed for 17 minutes while medics dealt with the player. Ballygunner went on to win comfortably.
The injury comes just over a year since his brother Philip dislocated an ankle and broke his fibula while playing for Ballygunner in a championship match against Ardmore.
Philip Mahony did make it back for the latter end of Ballygunner's campaign and captained the side to the county title.
McGrath, who only last week oversaw a magnificent League success for the Déise, is adamant that Pauric Mahony has the character to bounce back quickly from the setback just as his brother did last year.
"It's a terrible blow for Pauric himself. He's our talisman. There is no point in avoiding it, there is no point in dressing it up in any other way. Everything goes through him," he said.
McGrath visited his player in Waterford Regional Hospital yesterday morning and was able to reveal yesterday that the break was 'clean,' giving him a better chance of a quicker recovery.
"You might be thinking the latter stages of Ballygunner's club championship, being optimistic. But I have to be up front and say he has no chance of playing with us in the championship,"
The player is also due to sit college exams at Waterford IT later this week.
McGrath stressed he wasn't going to revise his opinion on giving his squad a two-week break to return to their clubs before preparations for the Munster semi-final with Cork intensified.
"I'm not going to go back on what I said. I felt the club break would do them good. I suppose these things can happen.
"The hope would be that this will steel us but it's not really measurable until after you have a defeat or after you miss him. You don't miss the water until the well runs dry," he said.
"As a management you have to move forward, not in a ruthless fashion because we are conscious of who he is and what he represents.
"The one big advantage that Pauric has is that the Mahonys are workers, very resolute. He has a great chance.
"He'll do his recovery to a tee and he'll be okay this time next year," said McGrath.
Mahony scored 1-90, 1-19 from play, in eight League matches and was one of Waterford's linkmen for turning defence into attack for them.
"The nature of our game is that it's congested around the middle and we are drawing a lot of frees," said McGrath. "He's a very clever player and a great leader for someone who is only 23 today.
"A lot was going through him. We're going to have hits along the way but we'll come again. I've said all along that we, as a team, are going to need some leeway."
In his absence Maurice Shanahan, Stephen Bennett and Jamie Barron are among those likely to audition for free-taking duties as they assume that responsibility with their clubs.
Shanahan himself is only coming back from an ankle injury while Bennett has been plagued with hip problems since helping Waterford to an All-Ireland minor title in 2013.
But none possess the consistency of Mahony who registers very few wides and can shoot points from placed balls well inside his own half of the field.
Waterford meet Cork again in a Munster semi-final in four weeks time.