Tyrone have suffered a major setback ahead of their Championship opener against Antrim later this month in Casement Park.
Midfielder Aidan Cassidy, a central figure in the defence of their Ulster title sustained a broken ankle, which not only rules him out of the provincial opener with Antrim but also leaves him a major doubt for the entire summer.
Augher clubman Cassidy suffered the injury when he fell awkwardly when challenging for a high ball in the latter stages of his side’s game with Loughmacrory on Saturday afternoon.
Ronan Ward of Loughmacrory also sustained a broken leg moments later in a game where Cassidy had scored 2-1.
Cassidy’s injury is a massive blow to Tyrone as he was arguably their best player during a disappointing National League campaign that saw them relegated to the second division.
The Augher stalwart was a major driving force in midfield where he lined out in all seven of the Red Hands’ games and he also proved to be an option when switched to full forward.
Ironically 12 months ago Cassidy was also a leading light during the National League but sustained an ankle injury on the eve of the Championship opener with Armagh that ruled him out of the entire Ulster Championship, his only appearance in the Championship coming as a substitute in the All Ireland semi-final defeat at the hands of Cork.
Tyrone assistant manager Tony Donnelly, a fellow clubman of Aidan’s, said it was devastating news for all concerned.
“First and foremost it’s an awful blow to Aidan not to mention Augher and Tyrone,” he said. “It’s obviously a big blow to our Championship hopes and I can’t put a timescale on how long he will be out for.”