IT would appear Cork football captain Brian Hurley and dynamic wing-back Mattie Taylor have played their last league games after missing out on the three-point defeat by Louth in Ardee at the weekend.
Both were named in the team at lunchtime Saturday but pulled before the start due to niggling injuries with fit-again Steven Sherlock and joint-captain Sean Meehan taking over in the 1-10 to 0-10 loss.
Cork conclude their Division 2 programme against newly promoted Derry at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday at 2pm with the Ulster champions bidding to complete the perfect record of seven wins from as many outings.
Derry are through to the final, when their opponents will either be Dublin or Louth who collide at Croke Park on Sunday with Mickey Harte’s Louth bidding to cause a sensation by defeating the Dubs and consigning them to a second season in the division.
“We’re not sure how they’ll be,” said manager John Cleary. “They just weren’t right for Sunday and with the championship coming up we just couldn’t chance them.
That Munster quarter-final on Easter Sunday in Ennis is quickly coming into focus and you suspect anyone carrying any kind of knock won’t be risked for the visit of Derry.
Sean Powter suffered a painful-looking kick on his foot during the second-half and required treatment before running off the injury and seeing the game out.
Keeper Micheal Aodh Martin also needed attention after saving Ryan Burns’s game-changing penalty only to be injured in the Louth player’s eagerness to win the rebound and palm the ball home for the lone goal.
Cork must plan without full-back Daniel O’Mahony, who was shown a red card close to half-time and the visitors diverted Meehan from left half-back to the number three role for the second-half and withdrew Powter from centre-forward to defence.
Meehan would well start full-back against Derry with Cian Kiely the obvious choice for the number seven shirt.
Meehan’s elevation from the substitutes’ list to starting resulted in a call-up for unused replacement Paul Ring while Dan O Duinnin also made the bench though didn’t see any game time either, joining reserve keeper Chris Kelly, Kevin O’Donovan, Paul Walsh and Fionn Herlihy.
Brian O’Driscoll missed the Clare game due to a hamstring injury sustained in the big win over Limerick but returned to duty in Ardee and was introduced during the second-half.
Sigerson Cup winner Shane Merritt was another notable absentee from the match-day panel as he is another player on an ever-growing injury list.
Despite a third defeat which resulted in Cork dropping a place to fourth in the table, Cleary said there were a lot of learnings again from the game which the players can put into practice going forward.
“It’s not all doom and gloom either as I said to the lads after the game. If we had taken our goal chances and other things not going our way, we would have got a positive result.
“I’m sure we will come up against these kinds of situations again and hopefully they will have learned from the game. We drive on from here.”
The final round of fixtures all throw-in at 2pm with a couple of rivalries sure to keep relegated Clare and Limerick interested in Ennis and the same applies for the meeting of Kildare-Meath in Newbridge.