Fennelly vows to return from injury hell
Kilkenny powerhouse Michael Fennelly has pledged to do everything to get back in a black and amber shirt in 2017 as he recovers from an Achilles tendon rupture.
Fennelly has targeted "May or June" for his return as he set aside any thoughts that he would retire after sustaining the dreaded injury when he pulled up in the second half of the All-Ireland semi-final replay against Waterford in August.
The memory of sitting through Kilkenny's final defeat was a spur to determining that he would make an attempt to get back.
But he admitted there were "no guarantees" with an injury that still has him in a boot into the seventh week since his operation.
Fennelly was speaking at the RTE championship draws where he was a guest as Kilkenny drew Wexford or one of the qualifier teams in a Leinster semi-final.
That helpless feeling he experienced on the day the Cats relinquished their crown to Tipperary is "something that will be driving me on next year to wear the Kilkenny jersey, get back midfield".
"But it's a long way with the rehab coming down the line," he conceded. "You're talking April, May before being back fully hurling. That's everything going according to plan.
"I know from talking to other players, calf strains can be a hassle coming down the line. No doubt the back will kick off in April, May as well, could cause more problems.
"You have to be positive though, not think about the negatives. Fingers crossed, if I get this rehab right, I'll get back in the Kilkenny jersey in May or June."
Fennelly says that so far the prognosis for recovery is good.
"They're happy enough in terms of the healing," he said. "In terms of the quality of the tendon, I won't know until I start running, jumping, what the power is there.
"Sometimes you can over-stretch a tendon. It becomes weak and too elastic. The tension is needed. Hopefully it will come right over the next few months. But there are no guarantees.
"Any time you get a serious injury like that, you have to re-look at things, re-analyse.
"This has to come back right either way, whether I come back hurling or not. So I'm staying positive. Hopefully get back in the jersey. There is no point doubting myself."
He feels his experience of serious ligament damage to both ankles in 2012 and 2013 can help him now.
"Three months each ankle, out with a boot. That was a bad injury as well," he said.
"I'm a flat-footed person and I seem to roll over my foot in games. Even in general, it's always a risk. Hopefully, there won't be any crossover. That should be fully healed."