Rice OK after return to action

Every member of the Kilkenny senior panel has now some hurling under his belt as the defending champions prepare for a do-or-die National League semi-final against Galway in Limerick.

Every member of the Kilkenny senior panel has now some hurling under his belt as the defending champions prepare for a do-or-die National League semi-final against Galway in Limerick.

While Michael Fennelly, who spent a number of months in Australia before and after Christmas, enjoyed some action in the quarter-finals against Wexford, former All-Star Michael Rice made a low key return elsewhere.

The Carrickshock man enjoyed a good 60 minute work-out when his club played Abbeyside (Waterford) in a challenge match on Sunday evening. The St Kieran’s College teacher, who has been dogged by muscle injuries since the start of the year, lined out at midfield and enjoyed some action at centre-forward also.

“He looked good,” Carrickshock manager, Maurice Power said. “He needed a match, but he came through it well. He was grand afterwards.”

Carrickshock are hoping that John Power, who pulled up with a bad hamstring strain in the recent League clash against Dublin, will be fit for the opening round of the local league on Friday, April 11 in John Lockes Park.

In recent weeks Richie Power (Carrickshock) and J.J. Delaney (Fenians) returned to action as the Cats gave the last of the panel members on field involvement.

Meanwhile, the two National League semi-finals - the second one is between All-Ireland champions, Clare and Tipperary - have been fixed for the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick on Easter Sunday. The Kilkenny tie will start the programme with a 2pm throw-in. The second tie starts at 4pm.

The Kilkenny squad will take a two week break now during which the players will return to their clubs in preparation for the start of the local league/championship.

Important

“It is hugely important that players get time to work with their clubs,” Brian Cody said after the county snapped up the ticket into the League semis. “Every game is the local league has a value in terms of the finishing places, so it is important players get time to work with their club colleagues and management.

“The total focus will be on the clubs, which is good, for the next few weeks,” he added.

The manager was very pleased with the way things went in Wexford Park on Sunday.

“They got good scores, created a lot and probably missed a helluva lot of scores as well,” was his summary of Kilkenny’s strong closing half performance. “You have to create chances before you can score them, so from that point of view our play was good. We created plenty of chances.

“The most important thing is the panel,” he continued. “There is strength in depth in the panel. A lot of players have been used. There are a lot of good things happening.

“The plan you hope for is that the players will have you thinking. We have plenty to think about now as we prepare for what will be a tough semi-final against Galway,” he concluded.