FR O'Neill's have been dealt a serious blow ahead of their trip to Croke Park after appeals against the red cards issued to Mark O’Keeffe and Billy Dunne during the All-Ireland club intermediate semi-final win over Tooreen were unsuccessful.
O'Keeffe, a key member of the Imokilly team that captured three senior titles in a row, and Dunne, a former Cork minor and deadly finisher, are two of the East Cork club's best hurlers.
They travelled to Dublin on Monday night along with club chairman Michael Hegarty and manager Bryan Sweeney to in a bid to be cleared to face Kilkenny champions Tullaroan this Saturday.
Unfortunately, despite presenting video evidence to the hearings committee, their suspensions were upheld.
"The club will regroup and consider the next step," explained chairman Hegarty.
They have an option to go to the appeals committee and beyond that the DRA.
Cork duo Ger Mellerick and Declan Dalton will spearhead the Ladysbridge and Ballymacoda-based club's bid for glory, while there are two survivors from the group that won an All-Ireland junior crown in 2005, Podge Butler and Eoin Conway.
They'll be up against Kilkenny's Tommy and Pádraig Walsh this weekend, a tough test even if O'Keeffe and Dunne's red cards are overturned.
O’Neill’s are the third Cork club in a row to contest the final, Charleville losing out last season with Kanturk claiming the title a year earlier.
The match at Croker on Sunday is part of a double-header with Fr O'Neill's neighbours Russell Rovers contesting the All-Ireland junior final at 4pm, followed by Fr O'Neill's game at 6pm.
Rovers were boosted earlier this week with the news that ace forward Josh Beasaung, who missed the semi-final, is fit and firing at training.