Saturday 20 July 2019

Cody welcomes back All-Star 'keeper but Kiely axes Hurler of the Year

 

Kilkenny Hurler Eoin Murphy. Photo: ©INPHO/James Crombie
Kilkenny Hurler Eoin Murphy. Photo: ©INPHO/James Crombie

Michael Verney and Martin Breheny

Brian Cody welcomes All-Star goalkeeper Eoin Murphy back into his Kilkenny side for a mouthwatering Leinster SHC clash with Davy Fitzgerald's Wexford at Innovate Wexford Park (7.0) tonight.

The Glenmore clubman has made a sensational recovery from a fractured knee to return between the posts as the Cats look to book their Leinster final place.

His inclusion at the expense of Darren Brennan is the only change from their one-point defeat to Galway last week but Cody has a formidable bench if needed.

Walter Walsh returns to the 26-man match-day squad having recovered from an ankle injury and is joined by last year's captain Cillian Buckley, former Hurler of the Year Richie Hogan and James Maher.

Elsewhere in Leinster, Dublin's Shane Barrett earned a red card reprieve but he hasn't been named by manager Mattie Kenny for tonight's crucial tie against Galway in Parnell Park (7.0).

Barrett's absence in Kenny's official line-up won't dampen speculation that he'll be parachuted back into his usual half-back slot as official word only emerged yesterday afternoon that the Na Fianna defender had been cleared.

Darragh O'Connell is named to start in Barrett's place, while Fergal Whitely is surprisingly promoted at the expense of Paul Ryan in the full-forward line in the only other change to face the Tribesmen.

Dublin need to win to have any chance of finishing in the top three. If they win and Wexford and Kilkenny finishes level, Galway, who currently head the table, will spectacularly be eliminated from the All-Ireland race on scoring difference.

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If there's a winner in the Wexford-Kilkenny game, Galway will remain in contention, even if they lose to Dublin.

Meanwhile, Limerick boss John Kiely has wielded the axe with Hurler of the Year Cian Lynch dropped for their Munster meeting with Tipperary tomorrow at Semple Stadium (2.0). Lynch's place goes to Darragh O'Donovan, while captain Declan Hannon is not named among their squad as regulars Graeme Mulcahy and Gearóid Hegarty also drop to the bench,

All-Star wing-back Dan Morrissey, 'supersub' Shane Dowling and Seamus Flanagan come into the Treaty side in their place, while Liam Sheedy has named a formidable Tipp outfit despite having their Munster final place already secured.

James Barry and Seán O'Brien are restored to the full-back line ahead of Barry Heffernan and Alan Flynn, while Jake Morris starts in the half-forward line at Dan McCormack's expense.

Cork face Clare in Cusack Park in the other Munster tie tomorrow (2.0) and Banner joint-managers Gerry O'Connor and Donal Moloney could become the first casualties of the hurling season if Clare fail to get a victory.

Clare have been in a high-speed tailspin, which has seen them lose their last two games by a total of 31 points, and the future of Moloney and O'Connor adds an intriguing dimension to the clash.

Clare - who make just one change with Diarmuid Ryan replacing Aron Shanagher - are still in with a chance of reaching the All-Ireland stages, but are also at risk of completing the campaign with only one win from four games.

If Clare win and Limerick beat or draw with Tipperary, the Banner will book a place in the All-Ireland preliminary quarter-final against all the odds.

Alternatively, if Clare replicate the dismal form they showed against Tipp and Limerick, the stewardship of O'Connor and Moloney will come under scrutiny and their summer will be over.

Ironically, if a vacancy arises, Fitzgerald could be in line for a return having guided the Banner to All-Ireland success in 2013 before parting ways at the end of the 2016 season in controversial circumstances.

Irish Independent

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