Eoin Murphy’s injury could be the thing to derail Kilkenny’s All-Ireland bid according to several Cats legends.
The All Star goalkeeper is anxiously awaiting the results of a second scan on a knee injury he suffered playing for his club Glenmore at the weekend.
If Murphy is ruled out for any significant length of time, it will mean that Cats will take on Dublin in their Leinster Senior Hurling Championship opener without their established goalkeeper, full-back and centre-back. And after that big games come thick and fast, offering little time for respite.
Full-back Conor Delaney broke his leg playing for Erin’s Own earlier in the month while centre-back Cillian Buckley hasn’t featured yet this year due to a persistent knee problem.
Defender James Maher was also injured on club duty, so Murphy’s absence would be even more keenly felt were he to miss the Dubs’ visit to Nowlan Park on Saturday, 11 May.
"I think injuries are going to be play a big part in Kilkenny’s Championship this year," said eight-time All-Ireland winner Eddie Brennan.
"There have been a few significant injuries in the last few weeks; Conor Delaney picked up an injury, Eoin Murphy is the latest from the weekend of club matches and he’s under pressure.
"When you are facing into the Championship without a three and six, that really does present a challenge for the management and for the rest of the players."
Murphy is one of a new breed of goalkeepers that are helping to redraw hurling’s template with his clever puck-outs and and accurate long-range striking, which goes alongside his top-level shot-stopping abilities.
According to legendary Kilkenny defender Jackie Tyrrell, his loss would be a major blow to Cats’ manager Brian Cody.
"He’s so important to Kilkenny because he sets the tempo with is puck-outs, his free-taking ability, organising his defence and the the scary thing with Eoin Murphy is when you see him one-on-one with a forward you expect him to save it," he said, speaking to RTÉ Sport. "That’s the standard he has set in goalkeeping. It’s crazy."
Murphy plays outfield for Glenmore, he won an All-Ireland junior club title with them at centre-forward in 2016, and he picked up a knee injury in an intermediate league game against St Lachtain’s in Bennettsbridge on Saturday.
He jumped for a ball, landed awkwardly in a group of players and had to be helped from the pitch.
Because of the bank holiday weekend he had to wait until Tuesday for a scan, which proved inconclusive so he is now awaiting the results of a second test.
According to Kilkenny great Henry Shefflin: "They haven’t had the full compliment on the field and I have said it over the last few years, if Kilkenny can get everyone on the field at their full level they’ll have a great opportunity.
"But that’s a challenge and it becomes more of a challenge as some players get older and pick up knocks. They need their key players on the field."