Derry have been dealt a savage blow ahead of embarking upon the qualifiers, with the news that Eoin Bradley could be out for the rest of the season.
Bradley – who scored four points last Sunday in a wonderful first half display for the Oak Leafers before they fell apart against Down – was playing for his club Glenullin against Kilrea on Wednesday night when he sustained an injury, dislocating his AC joint, which holds the collarbone in place.
Kilrea won the league fixture, 3-10 to 0-17.
Derry manager Brian McIver confirmed yesterday: "Our information is that Eoin Bradley suffered an injury early in a club game.
"An X-ray has revealed no broken bones, but he has suffered some damage to the collarbone area including a dislodged AC joint. Our physios will assess the situation later today, after which we will have a better idea of the remedial action required."
County PRO Dermot McPeake added to this, explaining that once the Derry physios had assessed the injury on Thursday morning, it emerged that there was a significant dislocation of the AC joint on his left shoulder.
In terms of a potential return, a lot would depend on how quick a healer Bradley is. The usual recovery time for this kind of injury would be around six to eight weeks.
Given the form Bradley was in, this is a huge problem for Derry given how they faltered against Down when he was starved of the ball during the second half, a period in which Derry scored only five points.
The first round of the qualifiers are due to be played in little over three weeks and it is unlikely that Bradley could play any part in them, given that the first four rounds are played over five weeks.
Back in 2011, Bradley also suffered an untimely injury in the middle of a Championship campaign. A week before they were due to play Donegal in the Ulster final, the Derry squad were being put through their paces in Ballinascreen when Bradley tore his cruciate ligament while pursuing the ball.
This injury could also leave him in huge jeopardy for the club Championship. Glenullin are due to face Magherafelt on July 28.
This comes as the latest injury blow to Brian McIver's men. They have already lost PJ McCloskey to injury and badly missed his presence in midfield last Sunday, while Raymond Wilkinson also injured his knee in the league final against Westmeath and was on crutches at the Championship match last weekend.
On Tuesday night, the Derry panel regrouped at the Owenbeg training complex for a meeting that commenced at 7pm. By the time others were leaving the building close to 10pm, the meeting was still in session as they plotted a way forward in the short-term through the qualifiers, as well as the long-term.