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Fennelly determined to thrive on centre stage

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Kilkenny's Colin Fennelly

Kilkenny's Colin Fennelly

Kilkenny's Colin Fennelly

Teenage graduates to Brian Cody teams have been exceptions limited largely to the Tommy Walsh/JJ Delaney genre of player over the last 15 years.

The pathway to a Kilkenny senior hurling team has demanded greater patience than any other county, even for some of their most adorned stars. Graduation is generally earned through an extended apprenticeship.

Colin Fennelly is one of the many who fall into that category. He was 21 when he made his debut in the 2011 league and has been a player brimming with the promise of so much more to come ever since.

Sometimes that potential has translated into tangible rewards, sometimes it hasn't.

When Walter Walsh was plucked from relative obscurity for the All-Ireland hurling final replay against Galway in 2012 it was Fennelly who made way.

He came off the bench to score a goal, followed up with successful captaincy in last year's league final against Tipperary and was instrumental against Waterford in that thrilling qualifier last July.

But on Sunday last, he delivered easily his best ever performance in a Kilkenny shirt from a position that he has the pace and ball control to thrive in this season.

Fennelly has joined the senior ranks of the black and amber cabinet and centre-forward looks like his new portfolio.

"I suppose there is a bit of a change going to centre-forward," he said. "I always struggled out there.

"When you are in the corner so much you can get used to things, but they talked to me at the start of the year and said, 'look, we want you out there and need more work out of you.' It was down to myself then, improving fitness and being able to keep on going."

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Scoring 3-5 against Tipp amounts to his best ever performance, he acknowledged. "It has to be, yeah, I can't remember scoring like that since I was a child playing schools."

Fennelly said Kilkenny had to collectively "take a serious look" at themselves at half-time on Sunday.

"It was a huge performance. I suppose we were struggling a bit at half-time and we had to take a serious look at ourselves. We had to do that and we did. In the first half once we didn't put our heads down that was the big thing."


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