KILKENNY All-Star Brian McEvoy was last night handed a 12-week suspension by the Leinster Council GAC for an alleged striking incident in a Walsh Cup hurling encounter against Meath on February 3.
It means McEvoy will be out of competitive hurling until April 27 and will miss the remainder of the Allianz Hurling League with the exception of the final on May 5 if Kilkenny get that far.
The James Stephens clubman made a personal hearing at last night's meeting at Portlaoise along with officers of the Kilkenny County Board but the GAC were guided by the report of referee James McGrath of Westmeath.
Both Kilkenny representatives and McEvoy argued that the incident after four minutes of the second half of the Navan game was dangerous play which would have merited a one-month suspension.
The Kilkenny officials also pointed to McEvoy's excellent disciplinary record.
Meanwhile, Andy Moloney was celebrating a new hurling dawn yesterday after the Tipperary-born player found himself named in the Waterford team for the first time.
Moloney admitted that it would have been his wish to return to the ranks of the blue and gold; however, the call from Tipp boss Nicky English never came, despite some impressive performances in assisting Ballygunner to win the Munster club title last November.
"I have made that decision now and I'm glad to be in a position to help Waterford as much as possible but I'm no different from anyone in that it's always your wish to play with the county of your birth," said Moloney after being named at centre half-forward to face Meath at Dungarvan on Saturday.
Despite a couple of National League appearances, Moloney, who starred for Tipp at minor and U21 level, hasn't become part of English's plans and yesterday the 26-year-old was happy that his inter-county career has been thrown a lifeline by Justin McCarthy and his selectors.
Moloney joins a second former Tipp player in Waterford's line-up as Brian Flannery has been a regular in their defence for the past two years.
Sean Cullinane and Stephen Frampton return to the defence after missing the Kilkenny encounter. Tony Browne moves to midfield, Pat Fitzgerald to wing-forward. A vacancy at full-forward, due to an injury to Sean Daly, is likely to be filled by Ken McGrath.
Meanwhile, one of Wexford's brightest young prospects Barry Lambert gets his first start when Wexford travel to Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday for their League date with Cork.
Clare are taking no chances for the visit of Dublin with Frank Lohan and Sean McMahon coming back in their defence where Colm Forde takes over at right corner from Brian Quinn.
Dublin manager Kevin Fennnelly has made a some slight alterations to the team which were denied an opening game against Galway due to the weather, with four players making their competitive debuts, Philip Brennan and Kevin Ryan from O'Tooles in defence, while Pat Maguire (Kilmacud) and David Curtin (Ballyboden) get their chances in attack.
New Galway goalkeeper Liam O'Donoghue is not being asked to turn out against Kilkenny at Duggan Park on Sunday because of his involvement with Clarinbridge in the club final on Sunday week and his place goes to Gort's Peter Commins.
Kilkenny will give a league debut to Pat Tennyson. The 22-year-old has been named at midfield in a team that includes seven newcomers.
@@STYL cl,6.4 @@STYL sw,6.2 WATERFORD (SH v Meath): S Brenner; T Feeney, S Cullinane, B Flannery; S Frampton, J O'Connor, J Murray; T Browne, P Queally; D Shanahan, A Moloney, P Fitzgerald; E Murphy, A N Other, P Flynn.
WEXFORD (SH v Cork): D Fitzhenry; D O'Connor, D Ryan, R Mallon; K Furlong, E Doyle, D Ruth; D O'Brien, L O'Gorman; D Stamp, A Fenlon, R McCarthy; M Jordan, L Murphy, B Lambert.
CLARE (SH v Dublin): D Fitzgerald; C Forde, B Lohan, F Lohan; D Hoey, S McMahon, C Plunkett; C Lynch, J Considine; T Griffin, O Baker, J O'Connor; N Gilligan, T Carmody, D Forde.
DUBLIN (SH): B McLoughlin; P Brennan, S Perkins, K Ryan; C Meehan, L Ryan, S Martin; D Sweeney, T Moore; C Kearney, D Spain, S Hiney; G Ennis, P Maguire, D Curtin.
GALWAY (SH v Kilkenny): P Cummins; G Kennedy, C Moore, O Canning; J Culkin, B Higgins, J Hodgins; R Murray, R Gantley; D Tierney, O Fahy, K Broderick; F Healy, E Cloonan, D Hayes.
KILKENNY (SH): J McGarry; M Kavanagh, N Hickey, JJ Delaney; P Cahill, A Cummins, P Barry; R Mullally, P Tennyson; H Shefflin, D Lyng, J Hoyne; E Brennan, M Comerford, P Sheehan.