by Orla Bannon
Slaughtneil dual players Meehaul McGrath and Cormac O'Doherty are out of Sunday's AIB Ulster club SFC final against Cavan Gaels.
McGrath suffered a fractured jaw in the semi-final victory against Kilcar 10 days ago - but didn't know the injury was so serious until the following day.
Another of the club's key forwards, Cormac O'Doherty, will also miss Sunday's provincial football final defence against Cavan Gaels with a pulled hamstring.
"Meehaul cracked a jaw before half-time in a tackle with Michael Hegarty," says the club's assistant manager John Joe Kearney.
"He came back out again for the second half - we didn't suspect anything.
"It was only afterwards when he cooled down that he knew the jaw wasn't right.
"That night on the way home he wasn't making any comment about it but the next morning he knew there was a problem."
McGrath must also be rated doubtful for the club's All-Ireland SHC semi-final against newly crowned Munster hurling champions Na Piarsaigh on February 10.
"He is on liquids at the present time and has to look after it for six or eight weeks," Kearney stated.
"So he is a non-starter and it is a blow, no point glossing over it. He is a big, big player for us."
Cavan Gaels are bidding to become the first Breffni club to win the Ulster club title, but if Slaughtneil retain their title in the Athletic Grounds they will play either Dr Crokes or Nemo Rangers in the All-Ireland semi-final on February 17.
That is another big target for McGrath and O'Doherty - who also sits Sunday's decider after pulling a hamstring in the same game against Kilcar.
"Paul Bradley has already gone through an operation for a trapped nerve on the disc so that three key of our regular (football) starters we'll be missing," Kearney added.
"But we're lucky right through the campaign that we have a good subs bench.
"Young Brian Cassidy is out of minor football last year, he came in for Cormac the last day and scored a couple of good points and had the vision to kick a good crossfield ball to Ronan Bradley for the second goal.
"That's the calibre of boys we have waiting to get a chance."