Larkin boost for Kilkenny as rivals finally gear up for Semple sizzler
'IT'S seconds out, round three' in Semple Stadium tomorrow when the long-awaited NHL clash between All-Ireland finalists Kilkenny and Tipperary finally goes ahead after twice being snowed off.
And the Cats have landed first blood by announcing All Star Eoin Larkin in their starters last night.
Eddie Brennan was the star forward expected to return but instead Larkin, who has made a quicker recovery than expected from injury, comes in for Richie Power, who is still not fully recovered from last week's knock.
John Tennyson also makes his first start of the year while Noel Hickey and Derek Lyng are among the subs. U-21 star John Mulhall, who did well off the bench against Offaly, now gets to start in a team that includes nine of the Cats' All-Ireland final starters.
Tipperary, looking to bounce back from their shock nine-point defeat by Dublin, will not announce a team until tonight as they have had six players involved in the final stages of the Fitzgibbon Cup.
Elsewhere Mayo have cleared up the mystery about Mark Ronaldson, stressing yesterday that he will not play for them in tomorrow's big Division 1 top-of-the-table clash with Dublin, despite naming him in their starters on Thursday night.
Top scorer Ronaldson picked up a retrospective one-month ban from Mayo's defeat of Tyrone but the fact that he was still named in the side indicated that Mayo were preparing to take his case to the second appeal stage, making him free to play this weekend.
However Mayo secretary Sean Feeney confirmed yesterday that the team released on Thursday night was mistakenly the same one given to the programme on Tuesday night, 24 hours before Ronaldson failed with an appeal to the Central Hearing Committee.
The decision to play Ronaldson in the FBD final on February 21 while his appeal was pending means that his suspension now dates from that game and he will also miss the NFL match against Derry on March 14.
Under-pressure Kerry, still chasing their first league points, have named some of their big guns against Derry. Tom O'Sullivan and Colm Cooper will make their first appearance of the league while David O'Callaghan (Blennerville) replaces the suspended Paul Galvin.
A hamstring injury picked up by Brian Flanagan in training on Thursday has forced Kildare, who have John Doyle back from suspension, to reshuffle their defence to face Donegal tomorrow.
Mark Scanlon switches to the centre in place of Flanagan, Keith Cribbin and Gary White flank him and Hugh McGrillen moves to corner-back with Damien Hendy starting at full-back.
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