Kilkenny all set for big SE Qualifiers derby

John Knox

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John Knox

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jknox@kilkennypeople.ie

Kilkenny all set for big SE Qualifiers derby

Kilkenny will be at full strength for the big South East shoot-out against Waterford in the All-Ireland hurling Qualifiers.
Former Hurlers of the Year, Michael Fennelly and Richie Hogan are available as the counties return to Semple Stadium today for a repeat of last year's All-Ireland semi-final.
Defender Conor O'Shea, who broke into the team this season, was nursing a hamstring injury but he is reported to be okay.
Fennelly made a remarkable return to action against Limerick at the weekend after a near 11 month absence from the inter-county scene after snapping an Achilles tendon.
The Ballyhale Shamrocks man was his usual powerful, bustling self in what was only his second game of the season.
He was reported to be stiff and sore after a tough, physical battle but the Achilles held up well, apparently.
Fennelly is looking forward to returning to the venue where he suffered the injury against the same opposition last August.
Hogan has been labouring under a back injury virtually all season and he was withdrawn in the 52nd minute of the Limerick tie.
He is ready to go again, apparently.
The road to Thurles
The counties ended up in the Qualifiers after being beaten in their respective provincial championships.
In Round I of the Qualifiers Kilkenny beat Limerick while Waterford proved too strong for Offaly.
The winners on Saturday qualify for the All-Ireland quarter-finals on July 23.
This will be the 14th championship meeting between the counties.
The Cats enjoyed a health run of 10 victories from the previous 13 clashes, while there were two draws, including last year's semi-final.
Waterford's only championship victory over the Noresiders was in the 1959 All-Ireland final replay.
The Suirsiders beat Kilkenny in the National League in February.
But it was a near thing in Nowlan Park as Derek McGrath's men edged the verdict 1-15 to 0-17.
If Kilkenny are beaten it would be the first time they failed to reach the All-Ireland quarter-finals since the championship system was changed to allowed beaten Leinster and Munster finalists re-enter the All-Ireland race in 1997.
“This is a winnable game,” insisted ’People columnist and former Kilkenny star, Michael Rice.
“The tough test against Limerick will have brought Kilkenny on a lot, but there won't be much in it,” he added.