SPECULATION is mounting that Kilkenny hurling manager Brian Cody will drop both his captain and his own son from the team for Saturday's All-Ireland quarter-final against Galway. Cody, who is renowned for his tough selection policy, banished Jackie Tyrrell and his son Donnacha to the 'B' team for a practice match among the Kilkenny squad this week.
SPECULATION is mounting that Kilkenny hurling manager Brian Cody will drop both his captain and his own son from the team for Saturday's All-Ireland quarter-final against Galway.
Cody, who is renowned for his tough selection policy, banished Jackie Tyrrell and his son Donnacha to the 'B' team for a practice match among the Kilkenny squad this week.
Tyrrell's place in the 'A' team starting line-up was taken by James Ryall, a regular on the Kilkenny side in last year's championship, while Donnacha Cody's corner-back spot was filled by Michael Kavanagh.
Kilkenny are due to announce their side to face Galway tonight, and according to sources close to the camp Cody is preparing to wield the axe.
Richie Mullally, who lined out at midfield in their Leinster final win over Wexford, is another player whose may lose out. He was also demoted to the 'B' side for Tuesday night's practice match, with Aidan Fogarty coming into the half-forward line, and James 'Cha' Fitzpatrick switching to midfield to partner Derek Lyng.
Kavanagh and Fogarty both missed the win over Wexford due to ankle injuries, allowing Cody and Mullally to come into the side.
Cody came in for some criticism locally following the Leinster final. In his newspaper column this week, DJ Carey remarked that Cody was very strong under the high ball, but pointed out that he was caught for pace on a few occasions by Wexford.
Forward Richie Power is ruled out of Saturday's showdown with a knee injury, but defender Noel Hickey is expected to be available despite being confined to running during training this week.
Meanwhile, teen sensation Joe Canning will not be part of the senior hurling squad for this weekend's All-Ireland quarter-final against Kilkenny in Thurles.
Manager Conor Hayes revealed yesterday that 17-year-old Canning would instead be concentrating on Galway's All-Ireland minor quarter-final against Antrim in Mullingar on Sunday.
Canning captains the side and is bidding for a third All-Ireland medal in the grade, a feat not achieved since Tipperary legend Jimmy Doyle in the 1950.
There were strong indications that Canning would join the senior panel this week after Hayes signalled his intention to talk to the young Portumna player.
But it has been decided to leave Canning concentrate on the minors.
"Joe won't be part of the panel," Hayes said yesterday.
"We decided it just wasn't feasible, with two games in less than 24 hours to be concentrating on. He's captain of the minors and it is very important to him. Maybe if there was a week between the games it would have been easier. But we won't be calling on him," he said.
Canning recently completed his Leaving Cert and Hayes hasn't ruled out inviting Canning back in again if they progress beyond the Kilkenny match.
But with the Galway minors expected to be involved in an All-Ireland semi-final, the senior management will face the same crux in three weeks' time.
Very few players have played minor and senior championship at the top level in recent times. Eoin Kelly figured in the 2000 All-Ireland quarter-final against Galway as a substitute, Ken McGrath served two Waterford teams in the 1995 championship and Brian Whelahan made an appearance with Offaly in that ill-fated All-Ireland semi-final against Antrim in 1989.
But Canning looked set all year to join that elite club after Hayes admitted it would be almost impossible to overlook such a talent.
Former Galway boss Cyril Farrell feels Canning would be good enough to make the starting team, but having played no league or championship hurling he feels it could be a risk. "He still has the minor and Under-21 campaigns to concentrate on. It would be hard for him to be involved on Saturday as well," said Farrell.
The Tribesmen are also sweating on the availability of midfielder David Collins and will give him until Saturday to prove his fitness.
Last year's Young Hurler of the Year has been troubled with a hamstring injury and missed the last match against Westmeath.
"His chances of playing on Saturday are only 50-50 at best," said Hayes.
"We will have another look at David on Thursday night, but we may delay making a decision on him until Saturday morning."
On the plus side, Hayes will have centre-back Shane Kavanagh available. The defender was suffering from a bruised foot last week, but is certain to be named this evening in Hayes's side to face the Leinster champions. "Shane trained on Tuesday without any problem," explained Hayes, who will finalise his starting 15 this evening.