Heartbreak for Barry O’Hagan after latest ACL injury setback

Clonduff forward had just returned from over a year spent on sidelines

Down's Barry O'Hagan dismissed the value of the Tailteann Cup
Barry O'Hagan had only returned to the field after battling back from injury nightmare. Picture by Philip Walsh

DOWN’S worst fears have been realised after Barry O’Hagan suffered another major cruciate ligament injury in Saturday’s Ulster semi-final defeat to Armagh.

The 30-year-old was one of a number of key players sprung from the bench in Clones but, just 14 minutes after replacing Miceal Rooney, O’Hagan had to be helped from the pitch after going down unchallenged.

It has since been confirmed that the Clonduff forward had injured his ACL.

This is a devastating blow for O’Hagan, who had only recently returned to the field following a triple reconstruction of knee ligaments last year.

He ruptured his ACL, MCL and meniscus in a National League game against Antrim in February 2023, an injury that left him sidelined for 13 months before being brought off the bench late in Down’s Division Three final against Westmeath last month.

He then started the Ulster Championship victory over Antrim but Mourne County boss Conor Laverty shuffled his pack for the clash with Armagh, keeping the pace of O’Hagan, Liam Kerr and Danny Magill in reserve as they chased an Ulster final spot.

It was a plan that so nearly paid off as Down led by two heading into the final quarter, only for substitutes Oisin O’Neill and Aidan Nugent to draw the Orchard level before Jason Duffy’s superb winner deep into added time.

O’Hagan’s injury comes on the same weekend it was confirmed that Cavan will be without star forward Paddy Lynch for the rest of the year.

The Crosserlough clubman injured his ACL at club training towards the end of last week, leaving Breffni boss Raymond Galligan with a huge hole to fill as they look ahead to the start of the All-Ireland series.

Lynch has become an attacking focal point for Cavan in recent seasons, with the 24-year-old once again showcasing his class with a 1-9 haul as the Breffnimen beat Monaghan in the preliminary round of the Ulster Championship, before landing another four in quarter-final defeat to Tyrone.