Kilkenny fans are set for a ‘Super Sunday’ of hurling, but at least one big name player will miss out, and a second is extremely doubtful.
Former player of the year, Michael Fennelly has no hope of figuring with defending champions, Ballyhale Shamrocks in their do-or-die tie. In fact, he is battling to save his season, writes John Knox.
And his county colleague, Michael Rice has no more than a 50-50 chance of being fit to help Carrickshock as they bid to make the semi-finals.
The County Board Fixtures Committee has arranged an interesting ‘double double’ header of senior hurling championship quarter-final games that will slot in neatly for the avid fans who don’t want to miss a moment of the top local action.
The early bird menu in Freshford will feature an appetising double quarter-final programme involving league champions, Clara against Erin’s Own of Castlecomer at 12.30pm and that will be followed by the clash between James Stephens and St Martin’s at 2pm.
Following later in Nowlan Park will be the quarter-final meeting between Carrickshock and Dicksboro at 3.45pm and later again, Shamrocks Ballyhale against O’Loughlin Gaels (5.15pm).
In recent weeks fans who wanted to feast on the heavy schedule of action found it difficult to do so because so many games were being played at the same time.
On Saturday, for example, the four intermediate quarter-finals, plus the first round senior hurling championship replay between O’Loughlin Gaels and Tullaroan, were all played within a few hours of each other.
Fans were given a double feature at well turned out Ballyhale, where the Rower-Inistioge, Mullinavat, Dunnamaggin and Thomastown provided the action, and a bumper crowd attended.
It will be interesting to see how the double double’ header goes down with the fans, but if the weather holds up, big crowds can be expected.
Michael Fennelly will missed the weekend action, and he could be sidelined for a long time. He is still troubled by the ankle injury he suffered against Clara in the third round of the local league in mid-May.
The injury improved and it appeared as if he was on the road to a full recovery when he got back playing with Kilkenny in July, but the ankle has given him problems again. There is real concern that he might miss the rest of the championship.
A source told us that the ankle “never healed properly, and it looks worse than ever.” Fennelly, a six times All-Ireland medal winner, will be a huge loss to Shamrocks.
Michael Rice won’t know until he has a fitness test on Friday whether or not he will be able to assist Carrickshock. His season has been wrecked by injury. The latest one is a hamstring strain.
Rice was only a bit part player with Kilkenny during the championship after suffering a hamstring injury in the early part of the local league. He had fought back bravely after an awful finger injury suffered during the 2012 championship, but he has been dogged by one injury after another since.
Meanwhile, the draws for the intermediate hurling semi-finals are - Rower-Inistioge v St Patrick’s (Ballyragget); Dunnamaggin v Emeralds (Urlingford). Both games will be played in Nowlan Park on Sunday week.
The draws for the county junior hurling semi-finals are Bennettsbridge v Barrow Ranges (Paulstown) and Lisdowney against James Stephens. The games will be played in Nowlan Park on Saturday, October 5.