There was good and bad news for Kilkenny hurling fans looking forward to another daring assault on the All-Ireland series.
One player nursing a bad injury has a real chance of making the All-Ireland semi-final on August 10. No one knows for sure about a second, who is still struggling with a back injury.
Deadly attacker, Richie Power could be available for the big shoot-out in Croke Park against opponents yet to be decided. However, former Hurler of the Year Michael Fennelly is struggling.
The powerful Ballyhale Shamrocks midfielder cum attacker sat in the stand in Croker on Sunday when the Cats regained the Leinster championship after a three year wait.
Fennelly last played on June 7 against Offaly in the opening match in the provincial series. He was picked on the team to play Galway in the semi-final two weeks later, but on the final run out with the squad on the Friday before the match he injured his back.
The ’People has learned that Fennelly will not line out with his club in the senior hurling league against St Martin’s (Muckalee) on Friday. While the player is now pain free, the exact cause of his problem is still something of a mystery.
Initially it was thought Fennelly had suffered a muscle spasm. That was expected to be a short term problem. In fact, he did his best to drive on and did a bit of jogging on a few occasions during squad training, but he has had to abandon that.
Fennelly failed to respond to treatment, including two rounds of injections. Now new avenues of treatment are being explored.
Suggestions that the player and management had a disagreement of some sort are wide of the mark. The player hasn’t been part of the last three match day squads because he has a serious injury.
The semi-final will be only a month away when the squad goes back into training next week. If Fennelly cannot resume training within the next fortnight, his chances of making the semi will diminish considerably.
Power, meanwhile, is making good progress after tearing the posterior ligament in his left knee. He has been able to do some light exercises, and all going well he will step up work during the coming weeks.