Time to prepare for League!

Kilkenny Senior Hurling management, Brian Cody, Michael Dempsey, Derek Lyng and James McGarry during the Walsh Cup match aginst D.I.T. in Freshford.  (Photo: Eoin Hennessy)
Kilkenny are operating from week to week in the early season muscle flexor that is the Walsh Cup hurling tournament.

Kilkenny are operating from week to week in the early season muscle flexor that is the Walsh Cup hurling tournament.

However, all the effort here will be geared towards having the players ready for the start of the National Hurling League.

The ’League opener could be a torrid affair with the defending champions travelling to Ennis to play Clare, the All-Ireland champions on Sunday, February 16.

And with that inviting affair in the background, more of the long established players could get game time in Sunday’s semi-final against Galway in Freshford, and if the Cats make it through to the decider, which will be played the following weekend.

Look at options

“Everyone wants to be involved in the League,” offered manager, Brian Cody when asked the ‘where to now’ question after Sunday’s easy win over DIT. “To be involved in the League you have to get ready for it. We have no idea yet who will play next Sunday, but we will sit down and think about it.

“We will look at all the options. There is a possibility we might try and get others involved.”

Kilkenny are working off a panel of 36 players or so at the moment, and the new Selection Committee of Mr Cody, Michael Dempsey, James McGarry and Derek Lyng are opened minded about what direction and shape the squad will take.

Mr Cody described Sunday’s effort as “a good first outing. We are happy. The effort was decent. Those players did a lot of good for themselves.”

He felt the new batch of players linked up nicely during plays. A lot of them hadn’t been involved before and the selectors were “happy with what they saw”.

Ennis trip is serious

“We have another Walsh Cup game next Sunday, which is good to get,” the James Stephens clubman continued. “That is what this is about, getting games. We are getting ready for the League. The first game is in Ennis. That is a serious one. We will see where we are for that.

“We want to try and win next weekend and have another game the weekend after that. That would be perfect. The challenge next weekend is good for us. Galway are looking for the same things as ourselves. They open in the League the same time as us.

“We will have a think about next Sunday. We are working off a panel involving some savage players and others who are very anxious to get into the mix. The effort and honesty are good. If you haven’t that the rest of the qualities you have will never surface.”

When asked about the current situation with the long serving Henry Shefflin, who was plagued by injuries last season, he said he “was good. He is training. He is feeling fine.”

There was no time frame for Shefflin’s return.

Former Hurler of the Year, Michael Fennelly was still in Australia. He was doing some training, apparently, and the selectors will wait on the final word from him when he returns.