GER ENNIS is set to miss resurgent Dublin's Allianz Hurling League clash with Meath on Sunday after being hit with two cruel injury blows in the space of just eight days.
Ennis, scorer of Dublin's goal in their shock win over Waterford, had to be rushed to hospital after breaking his nose just before the end of Monday's tie at Parnell Park.
And that mishap followed on from having two top front teeth knocked out in the loss to Clare, last Sunday week.
As a result of the initial injury, the Craobh Chiarain clubman missed out on training last Tuesday and Thursday. But after taking part in Saturday's work-out, he courageously defied the odds to line out in the clash with Waterford.
However, it is almost certain that Ennis will have to resign himself to a spectator's role for the clash with Michael Duignan's side.
"I have to go back to hospital on Friday for a further check-up on my nose, and I'll probably have to have it reset," explained Ennis. "I'll take a rest for a week or so, so the earliest that I will be probably be back playing will be for the game against Galway on Saturday week."
Prior to attending Beaumont Hospital on Friday, the 27-year-old has an appointment with a dentist on Thursday to ascertain what work needs to be carried out on the teeth injury.
"I already had one of my front teeth crowned from a previous injury about seven years ago, so I'll probably have to have that re-crowned, and also need a new crown fitted where the natural tooth was," said Ennis.
"As well as the teeth being knocked out, I had to have three stitches inserted in my chin."
Since he started playing hurling as a juvenile, Ennis has worn a helmet, but not one with a facial guard, so he had no protection for the injury against Clare.
However, he decided to wear a facial guard in Sunday's match, only to discard the helmet at half-time. "I took it off, because I couldn't see properly because there was a bar in front of my one of my eyes," he pointed out.
Meanwhile, buoyant Dublin boss Kevin Fennelly is keeping his feet on the ground after the five point win over Waterford. "Obviously, the performance on Monday was encouraging, and it was a major improvement on the display against Clare when we were flattered by the final scoreline," he said.
"But one swallow never made a summer, and so we've got to sustain a similar level of work-rate, commitment and all-round efficiency in our remaining League games. Of course, it will be very difficult to get a win against either Galway or Kilkenny, but I will be satisfied if we perform like we did against Waterford.
"Against Waterford, it was also very encouraging that we had four 19-year-old lads in the team Derek O'Reilly, Phillip Brennan and Stephen Hiney in the backs, and Conal Keaney at midfield. As well, David Curtin, who played at full-forward, is only 20."
Despite Meath's two crushing defeats by Waterford and Kilkenny, Fennelly believes that the Dubs will have to be on their guard against the Royals. "In my first game with Dublin, Meath beat us in the League 12 months ago, and on Sunday we'll be hot favourites just like Waterford were against us.
"So the pressure will be on us, and we've got to show that we can deal with that type of situation."
Meanwhile, Kilkenny star Denis Byrne will miss the rest of the league campaign due to injury. The 27-year-old broke two bones in his right hand during a training ground accident with the county squad and he will be sidelined for a minimum of six weeks.
"This is a bit of a sickener, but there is no use crying about it," said Byrne, who had just returned after injury.
During the close season, he had an operation to repair an old nose injury, and he had played just two matches since.
"The hand is sore, even now," explained the former All-Star, who underwent an hour-long operation on St Patrick's Day. "This is the second time in three years that I have broken a bone in my hand," he revealed.