CORK look set to be without keeper Micheál Aodh Martin and Kevin Flahive for next month’s All-Ireland Qualifiers after both were injured in the 0-23 to 0-11 defeat by Kerry in the Munster semi-final at Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday.
The Nemo Rangers custodian limped out of the action after 23 minutes, which meant an unexpected call-up for Dylan Foley, whose Éire Óg colleague, Chris Kelly, the understudy, is also out injured.
Douglas’s Flahive, who did an outstanding job on restricting David Clifford to just one point from play, had to be helped off near the end, when Cork had already used their full allocation of substitutes.
Interim manager John Cleary cursed the group’s long list of casualties.
“This group is getting no break at all. Chris Kelly, our sub keeper, got injured a couple of weeks ago which meant Dylan was thrown in at the deep end,” he said.
“There was no goal went past him, but Kerry really pushed up on our kick-out.
“Kevin, I thought, had an heroic game on David Clifford and he picked up what looks like a serious injury.
“Injuries seem to affect this squad more than most.
“Ian Maguire and Sean Powter shouldn’t have been out there at all with their injuries, but they wanted to play and the younger lads rowed in behind them.
“They are the team leaders and I thought Powter was heroic in the first half, where he cut out balls.
“And even in the second half he continued to harry and bring balls out from defence.
“Sean ran out of steam for the simple reason that he hadn’t trained in four or five weeks.
“Ian’s hand probably wasn’t right either, but he kept battling right to the end and was the team leader and director on the pitch, getting players back.
“The two of them were mad anxious to play. Up to Wednesday, I thought Ian had no hope of playing, but he came in that evening and said he wanted to see how he went in training. Ian declared himself fit and we took a gamble with him.
“Micheál and Kevin are probably gone for the next day, but there are lads who didn’t get in after putting in a fierce effort in training. I know they’re not too happy, so we’ll have to use the panel, but we’ll need all the month to prepare for the next game.”
Cork suffered a 22-point mauling 12 months ago and managed to cut that in half as well as keeping a clean sheet after conceding four goals in 2021.
“I suppose it’s a big improvement. Looking from outside the wire back then, Cork were very competitive up to half-time before it went away from them.
“We had some heroic defending in the backline at times and we should have had four or five points more that would have made it bit more respectable. I couldn’t fault anyone for lack of effort.
“We knew that if this Kerry team got a run on you in the first half they’d score two or three goals and you could be facing an embarrassing defeat.
“The very fact that it was here in front of the home fans, who created a great atmosphere, ensured that everyone said they would give it everything and go as hard as they could.
“We wouldn’t be happy with the display, but proud all the same that they put their bodies on the line,” Cleary concluded.