Monday 23 April 2018

Brennan to make first start of summer as doubts linger over Fennelly

Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

EDDIE Brennan has been recalled to the Kilkenny team for what will be his first start in this year's championship as Brian Cody realigns his attacking forces for tomorrow's All-Ireland hurling final.

TJ Reid drops out, but, with doubts over Colin Fennelly's fitness, it remains to be seen if there is a pre-game change that will allow last year's captain a chance from the start.

Fennelly has been troubled by a hamstring injury but is selected at right corner-forward on a team that shows six changes from the starting 15 for last year's final.

Cody maintained all week that Fennelly was making steady progress and would be given every chance to play himself into his first All-Ireland final.

Brennan is named at right half-forward, but it's most unlikely that he will play there since the vast majority of his 47-match championship career, extending back to 2000, has been spent as a goal-poacher across the full-forward line.

Michael Rice joins Michael Fennelly at midfield in what is a formidable physical force.

Brennan's return will please his many supporters who regard his goal-scoring expertise as vital to Kilkenny's prospects of unseating Tipperary. He has scored 26 goals in 47 championship games.

Meanwhile, Dublin's bid to get Diarmuid Connolly freed to play in the All-Ireland football final will start in earnest on Monday night when his initial appeal against a proposed four-week suspension will be heard by the Central Hearings Committee.

Blues boss Pat Gilroy was hopeful last night that their full-forward star's ban will be lifted to allow him to play against Kerry.

"I have looked at the video and in my eyes it does not look like a sending off," the Dublin manager said of Connolly's dismissal against Donegal last week. "It is being heard on Monday so we will know early and there is plenty of time."

Former Dublin star Ciaran Whelan suggested yesterday that Donegal substitute Marty Boyle should step in to help reignite Connolly's All-Ireland dream.

Boyle fell to the ground after Connolly shoved him in the neck, but Whelan said: "In the spirit of sportsmanship, Boyle also has a role to play and must reflect on his actions. Boyle has an obligation to support Connolly."

Dublin are also hopeful that Paul Flynn will make the final, despite tearing his hamstring against Donegal. "It wasn't a grade-two tear, I don't know where that came from," Flynn revealed. "I should be back training next week."

Kilkenny -- D Herity; P Murphy, N Hickey, J Tyrrell; T Walsh, B Hogan (Capt), JJ Delaney; M Fennelly, M Rice; E Brennan, R Power, H Shefflin; C Fennelly, E Larkin, R Hogan.

Irish Independent

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