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Power could be back for Leinster opener

RICHIE POWER could conceivably be back for the start of the championship after it was confirmed that the All Star forward has not become the latest Kilkenny hurler to succumb to the cruciate curse.

Power will probably still face a race against time to be fit for Kilkenny's Leinster semi-final date with either Dublin, Carlow or Laois on June 23, but the news that he has 'only' suffered cartilage damage to his knee has still been greeted with audible relief on Noreside.

It was initially feared that the Carrickshock clubman had torn his cruciate -- the same injury that has twice bedevilled Henry Shefflin and John Tennyson -- while on club duty last Saturday night.

However, a scan in Waterford's Ardkeen Hospital yesterday revealed the damage is not of the season-ending variety and he was due to undergo corrective keyhole surgery today. Needless to say, this Sunday's National League final against Cork is a non-runner.

A statement on the Kilkenny GAA website read: "It has been confirmed that Richie Power's injury is to the cartilage in his knee. He is scheduled to undergo surgery [today] and it is anticipated that he will be out of hurling action for four to six weeks."

Power's influence has grown to such an extent that there were real fears about the ramifications for Kilkenny's All-Ireland defence when the injury occurred. His absence, even in the short term, underlines the importance of getting Henry Shefflin back in action soon.

Aidan Fogarty broke a bone in his wrist last week but, more positively, Richie Hogan made an earlier-than-expected return to club action over the weekend.