CORK manager Peadar Healy confirmed Brian Hurley’s season is over after suffering a second serious hamstring injury while playing with his club Castlehaven recently.
The 24-year-old star forward only returned playing after being out since last July, when he ripped his hamstring off the bone, but is now facing another long battle back.
Hurley was seen walking with the aid of a crutch at Páirc Uí Rinn yesterday, when Cork lost a nine-point lead and had to settle for a share of the division two spoils with Meath in an exciting 0-18 to 1-15 draw.
The result leaves Cork vulnerable to a second successive relegation with two more games left, starting with the long haul trip to Derry next Sunday and the visit of Down a week later.
Only three points separate Meath and Clare in joint third from Fermanagh at the foot of the table with Cork and Down level on four points apiece, one ahead of Derry, who are a point clear of Fermanagh.
Kildare and Galway, who meet in the final game in Galway, lead the way with eight and seven points respectively and could clinch promotion next weekend.
Cork are sweating over the fitness of midfielder Aidan Walsh, who suffered a knee injury after only eight minutes.
“We shouldn’t surrender a nine-point lead at this level,” said Healy afterwards.
“We had chances near the end to go two points in front which would have finished the game, but we didn’t take them.” The manager did take some encouragement from Cork’s performance in the opening 45 minutes, when they played their best football of the season.
“We’ve two huge battles now, starting with Derry away, which is never an easy game,” Healy added.
Cork made five changes in attack from the team which lost to Clare with Colm O’Neill and Mark Collins contributing a dozen points between them.