THE odds are stacked against powerful Kilkenny midfielder, Michael Fennelly being fit for the opening defence of the Leinster senior hurling championship.
The Shamrocks (Ballyhale) star sat out his club’s game against Fenians (Johnstown) in the senior league at the weekend, and unless he can get in some hurling practice this week he will miss the big clash against Wexford in Wexford Park on Saturday week.
“Michael is struggling. It is not looking good,” admitted Kilkenny selector, Martin Fogarty. “This is the sort of situation you don’t want in the lead up to a big match.”
It is believed Fennelly will be given a sort of deadline much like the one faced by Henry Shefflin and John Tennyson before last year’s All-Ireland when they had to prove their fitness and play some hurling at least 12 days before the final.
Unless he can tog out and join in a full training session with the squad this week, the former under-21 All-Ireland winning captain will miss the Wexford match.
Fennelly (26) broke a bone in his right hand during the last National League clash against Offaly at Nowlan Park on April 17. He has not played since.
Informed sources suggested the four times senior All-Ireland medal winner tried to play some hurling the weekend before last. However, the hand swelled up afterwards and the player realised he was more or less out of time.
“It is a wait and see situation, but Michael will be given every chance,” Mr Fogarty suggested. “If he can’t train this week things wouldn’t be looking good for him.”
This week Kilkenny will work hard during training, but next week things will slacken off so the players will be fresh entering what will be a huge test against a side that saw off Antrim in the championhip at the weekend.
“Wexford were impressive,” was the summary from Mr Fogarty after seeing the Slaneysiders perform on their home turf against Antrim. “Playing Wexford is never easy. We know what to expect.
“Anyone who beats them will have to be on top of their game, and that includes Kilkenny.”
Meanwhile, the news concerning other players who were nursing knocks is more encouraging.
Tommy Walsh took a knock on the shoulder at the weekend and he sat out Sunday’s squad session at Nowlan Park. He should be okay.
J.J. Delaney, Eoin Larkin and James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick, who all missed the recent challenge match against Waterford, returned to club action at the weekend and they should be fit and ready for the fray.
Plaster cast off
Richie Hogan picked up a hand injury against Waterford and sat out Danesfort’s match at the weekend, but he should be back training this week.
Meanwhile, Aidan Fogarty had the plaster cast removed from his broken ankle when he visited doctors last week, and he will now step up his rehabilitation programme. The player has expressed the hope that he could be back in action in late July or August.