BRIAN Cody has refused to accept defeat in Kilkenny's bid to get Colin Fennelly fit for Sunday week's All-Ireland SHC final clash with Tipperary.
The Ballyhale Shamrocks attacker pulled up with a serious hamstring injury during a club game in Thomastown two Saturdays back and early indications were that the 23-year-old would be sidelined for weeks, thus missing the September showpiece in his debut season.
Fennelly was rushed immediately to the chryotheraphy centre in Wexford for treatment but the early prognosis was they he would not be ready to play a part against Tipperary.
However, Cody insisted last night that Kilkenny were "hopeful" Fennelly could yet prove his fitness and play some part against the defending All-Ireland champions.
"It's hard to say," the Cats manager responded over whether Fennelly would play.
"He's back jogging. He was out doing a bit of work. It's touch and go at the moment.
"It's impossible to say. The timeframe is short at the moment. He's certainly not ruled out at this stage. We're hopeful.
Fennelly forced his way into the team during the National League this season and featured in the final against Dublin as well as the subsequent three championship games and if he is ruled out, veteran attacker Eddie Brennan is the likely beneficiary of his misfortune.
Brennan has been the chief victim of Fennelly's emergence this season and has had to be content with a spot on the bench in all four of Kilkenny's championship matches thus far.
Outside of Fennelly, Cody can boast a fully fit squad -- a marked contrast from 12 months ago when the entire GAA world hung on every injury update emerging from Nowlan Park over the fitness of Henry Shefflin and John Tennyson.
"There isn't as much hype, obviously," Cody remarked. "Last year, people were talking about the five-in-a-row or whatever it was. And there was a lot of talk about our injury situation, locally as well as nationally. There was huge curiosity about it.
"But that's just all outside the dressing room. It wasn't an excuse for anything last year.
"The difference is we're going in as challengers for the first time in a few years. We're very much underdogs as well."
Meanwhile, the newly re-jigged and much maligned 2012 Allianz Hurling League format will now commence in March after Central Council's decision to reduce the number of games in the competition to five per team.
The move to reshape the top two divisions into Division 1A and Division 1B has been met with a loud chorus of disapproval, with Limerick manager, Donal O'Grady the latest to brand it "a disaster".
However, GAA Director of Games, Pat Daly, defended the reasons behind the move, including the appetite to push back the start of the competition, explaining "you are far more likely to get competitive games when there are groups of six rather than with any other type of grouping.
"There is also a broad feeling out there that the hurling season shouldn't start until March."