Thursday 23 November 2017

Fennelly's return from injury a huge boost for Cody's Cats

Fennelly has been sidelined since rupturing his Achilles tendon against Waterford in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final replay. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Fennelly has been sidelined since rupturing his Achilles tendon against Waterford in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final replay. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Donnchadh Boyle, Michael Verney and Jackie Cahill

Kilkenny have been given a timely boost ahead of their Leinster SHC defence with former Hurler of the Year Michael Fennelly taking part in a recent challenge game in his first tentative steps on the road to recovery.

The Ballyhale Shamrocks midfielder has been sidelined since rupturing his Achilles tendon against Waterford in last year's All-Ireland semi-final replay but he made a brief cameo for the Cats last weekend.

Fennelly, an eight-time All-Ireland winner, got through 20 minutes in a challenge game between the Kilkenny senior and U-21 squads and he came through unscathed.

Read more - Vincent Hogan: Cody needs to work magic again to put energy into a group that has looked oddly passive

Such is Fennelly's value to Kilkenny, Brian Cody has eased him back into the fold but it's still up in the air whether he will play any part in a likely Leinster semi-final showdown with Davy Fitzgerald's Wexford on June 10.

With 2015 All-Ireland club champions Ballyhale, defeated in their first two games, in action against James Stephens in a third round senior hurling league on Saturday, the 32-year-old may be involved in some capacity as his recovery gathers speed.

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Elsewhere, Sean Curran is favourite to replace suspended midfielder Jason Forde in the Tipperary team to face Cork in Sunday's Munster SHC quarter-final at Semple Stadium.

The Mullinahone clubman (25) made his full championship debut against the Rebels in last year's corresponding fixture, and looks set for his second start.

Curran has made three championship appearances in total, also coming on as sub against Waterford (Munster final) and Galway (All-Ireland semi-final) later in the 2016 campaign.

Darragh Mooney has also made a big push in an attempt to dislodge Darren Gleeson from the goalkeeping position.

In football, Stephen Rochford has handed a championship debut to Fergal Boland as Mayo start their campaign to reclaim the Connacht title they lost to Galway last year.

The game also sees a return for former All-Star Ger Cafferkey, who is back in the side after a serious hamstring injury. Aidan O'Shea is held in reserve.

Sligo have named an unchanged side from the side that beat New York while Monaghan will be led by captain Colin Walshe as they face Fermanagh in Clones tomorrow evening.

Mayo (SF v Sligo) - D Clarke; C Barrett, G Cafferkey, K Higgins; C Boyle, L Keegan, P Durcan; S O'Shea, T Parsons; F Boland, D O'Connor, C O'Shea; K McLoughlin, C O'Connor, A Moran.

Sligo (SF v Mayo) - A Devaney; R Donovan, C Harrison, E McHugh; K Cawley, B Egan, J Kelly; P O'Connor, A McIntyre; N Ewing, M Breheny, K Cawley; S Coen, P Hughes, A Marren.

Monaghan (SF v Fermanagh) - R Beggan; F Kelly, D Wylie, R Wylie; C Walshe, V Corey, N McAdam; K Hughes, K O'Connell; G Doogan, S Carey, D Ward; C McCarthy, J McCarron, C McManus.

Irish Independent

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