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Top Cat all set for return to prowl the sidelines but Sheff' still in fitness race

BAD news for all those hurling counties ranked from number two all the way down to obscurity - Brian Cody is on the way back.

A precise timeframe from his re-arrival has yet to be revealed but such is his recovery progress from the heart operation he underwent last month, he was, according to selector Michael Dempsey, in sufficient health and spirits to attend the Kilkenny minor hurlers' defeat to Wexford in Nowlan Park on Saturday afternoon, although he was not present yesterday at the same venue as his team beat Tipperary - the seventh League success of his tenure - even if he wasn't there on the crowning day.

"It will depend on medical advice but he was here at a minor match yesterday," he explained. "It's lucky we won today or I'd say he would have been back quicker than we'd even want!"

The question of just how involved Cody has been these last few weeks was then put to Dempsey, who admitted that he and fellow selector Martin Fogarty had touched base this week.

"To be fair to Brian he kind of says just get on with it. Brian has the sort of reputation of being a delegator and told us to get on with it.

"Obviously he was very supportive. It's a pity playing a national league final in Nowlan Park that he wasn't able to attend because that's where he would just love to be, so it's great that we won today and that we'll have him back shortly."

Hopes of a quick comeback for Henry Shefflin appear to be dwindling, however. He has until June 9, when the Cats take on Offaly in their Leinster SHC opener, to get fit in order to preserve his record of featuring in every Kilkenny Championship match of Cody's tenure but uncertainty still shrouds his comeback date.

"We don't know when Henry will be back," Dempsey admitted. "He's back doing some work and making some progress. It depends how he reacts to the training. It's impossible to say."

Ditto TJ Reid, still in the throes of rehabilitation from a broken kneecap suffered in last year's All-Ireland final replay.

The Ballyhale man is, according to Dempsey, "practically doing some rehab every day for the last five or six months. He's back doing some running, but he still has a lot of work to do and has missed a lot of hurling.

"There's only five weeks together and the next two are going for two rounds of the club matches. But he's been working really, really hard," added Dempsey, who also revealed that Richie Power's rib injury isn't serious enough to keep him out of club action next weekend.

Definitely out of the Offaly duel, however, is JJ Delaney, who was sent off on a straight red card for a clash with Lar Corbett, likely now to face a one-match ban, while Corbett will, perhaps more significantly, miss Tipp's Munster opener with Limerick on the same day, barring a successful appeal.

"I have to be honest, I didn't actually see it," said Tipp boss Eamon O'Shea of the incident. "I mean, two players were grappling on the ground. I couldn't see what happened.

"Sometimes a referee sends players off, sometimes he doesn't. I have absolutely no problem with the referee today. The referee for me had a fine game."


Glensmen see off Westmeath hopes

ANTRIM advanced past Westmeath in yesterday's Leinster SHC preliminary round clash at Cusack Park, Mullingar to set up a head-to-head with Laois. The Glensmen trailed by two points at the break, 1-7 to 1-9, and had Karl Stewart dismissed but were still the more powerful unit to progress by eight points, 3-18 to 2-13.

Westmeath were also reduced to 14-men when their top-scorer Derek McNicholas picked up a second yellow and when Antrim's Conor Carson cracked home his side's third goal shortly after in the 58th minute there was to be no way back for the home side.


CONNACHT SFC: Leitrim 4-19 New York 0-7 (Leitrim advance to face London or Sligo). ALLIANZ NHL DIVISION 1 FINAL: Kilkenny 2-17 Tipperary 0-20. ALL-IRELAND U-21 FC FINAL: Galway 1-14 Cork 1-11. LEINSTER SHC PRELIMINARY ROUND: Antrim 3-18 Westmeath 2-13. CHRISTY RING CUP ROUND 1: Kerry 3-16 Down 2-17; Derry 1-11 Wicklow 1-9; Meath 1-20 Armagh 2-10; Kildare 1-23 Mayo 0-16

NICKY RACKARD CUP ROUND 1: Tyrone 1-11 Louth 0-12; Roscommon 1-18 Sligo 0-14

LORY MEAGHER CUP ROUND 1: Fermanagh 3-13 Leitrim0-12; Warwickshire 1-15 Longford 1-10


LEINSTER MHC QUARTER-FINALS: Laois 3-15 Meath 1-5; Kildare 3-14 Carlow 3-12; Dublin 1-21 Offaly 0-11; Wexford 3-7 Kilkenny 1-10.

LADIES NFL DIVISION 4 FINAL: Offaly 1-14 Roscommon 0-15

CAMOGIE NATIONAL LEAGUE DIV 1 FINAL: Cork 0-12 Wexford 1-7. DIV2 FINAL: Limerick 3-14 Kildare 0-10. DIV3 FINAL: Laois 0-9 Dublin 0-7. DIV4 FINAL: Carlow 2-6 Tyrone 2-4.