Murphy gets job of filling in for retired giant Delaney on Cats' first day out
ALL-STAR corner-back Paul Murphy has been given the onerous job of replacing the man that Kilkenny hurling fans regard as irreplaceable - for the first game of the season at least.
The retirement of totemic full-back JJ Delaney has left a massive gap to be filled and there will be heavy speculation that Murphy (right) is destined to take ownership of the number three jersey after getting it for the Cats' Allianz League opener against Cork tomorrow night.
Retirements, injuries and the absence of Ballyhale's club-tied stars has left the All-Ireland champions without 13 of last year's All-Ireland finals squad, including injured trio Eoin Larkin and Richie and John Power.
Yet last night's first selection for their so-called 'transitional' side only underlined Kilkenny's massive depth of talent.
They still begin with eight of their All-Ireland final replay starters - five of them in defence - plus Lester Ryan, who replaced Michael Fennelly in that game, and not one of tomorrow's starters is a league debutant.
Keith Hogan, a brother of retired centre-back Brian, is one of six newcomers, but they are all named on the bench by manager Brian Cody and the other debutants are Darren Brennan, Padraig Gahan, Ger Malone, Bill Staunton and Kevin Kelly.
Kilkenny (SH v Cork) - E Murphy; T Keogh, P Murphy, J Tyrrell; B Kennedy, K Joyce, C Buckley; C Fogarty, L Ryan; P Walsh, W Walsh, M Ruth; M Kelly, J Farrell, R Hogan.