Wednesday 17 January 2018

Cody cuts Larkin as McCarthy returns

Gaelic Games

The most notable alteration is the return of 2014 Hurler of the Year Richie Hogan. Photo: Sportsfile
The most notable alteration is the return of 2014 Hurler of the Year Richie Hogan. Photo: Sportsfile

Martin Breheny and Michael Verney

Whoever said you should never change a winning team obviously never observed the habits of Brian Cody, with the Kilkenny boss making three alterations for tomorrow's All-Ireland SHC semi-final against Waterford.

The most notable is the return of 2014 Hurler of the Year Richie Hogan, who shot five points upon his introduction in a scintillating 35 minutes against Galway, while John Power and captain Shane Prendergast also get the nod.

Cody's James Stephens club-mate Eoin Larkin misses out after a sub-par Leinster final performance while Robert Lennon and former All-Ireland-winning skipper Lester Ryan also drop to the bench.

Opponents Waterford have named both Darragh Fives and Shane Bennett in their starting 15 despite injury concerns as they seek revenge for last year's defeat to the Cats at the same stage.

Elsewhere, the speculation surrounding the fitness of Dublin defender James McCarthy seems to have abated with the current All-Star half-back named to start against Donegal in today's All-Ireland semi-final.

There were worries in the capital that McCarthy hadn't recovered sufficiently from a knee injury but his inclusion is the only change in Jim Gavin's side as they look to banish the memories of their harrowing semi-final defeat two years ago.

Meanwhile, Diarmuid O'Connor has been included in the Mayo starting team for today's quarter-final showdown with Tyrone after a late withdrawal from Stephen Rochford's selection last weekend due to a dead leg.

The current Young Footballer of the Year was replaced by Jason Doherty, who scored 1-1, in their Qualifier victory over Westmeath but the Ballintubber ace regains his place at left half-forward in a direct switch with Doherty in an otherwise unchanged side.

The biggest weekend turnout of the GAA championships will flock to Croke Park today and tomorrow, with around 145,000 spectators expected for two All-Ireland football quarter-finals and the first hurling semi-final.

A sell-out 82,000 crowed will watch the Mayo-Tyrone (4.0) and Dublin-Donegal (6.0) football games today, followed by a further 45,000 at tomorrow's Kilkenny v Waterford hurling clash (3.30).

Dublin, the long-time favourites to win the All-Ireland title for the fourth time in six seasons, take on Donegal, the only team to have beaten them in the championship during Gavin's managerial era.

Mickey Harte will lead Tyrone, unbeaten in all competitions this year, into last eight action for the 11th time when they face Mayo, who are bidding to reach the semi-finals for a sixth successive year, having come through the Qualifiers rather than as Connacht champions this season.

The winners will play surprise packets Tipperary in the first semi-final on August 21, followed a week later by Kerry v the Dublin-Donegal winners.

Irish Independent

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