Shefflin and Power face battle to make Leinster

The Leinster hurling championship could be over for star players, Henry Shefflin and Richie Power, before the county has struck a ball.

The Leinster hurling championship could be over for star players, Henry Shefflin and Richie Power, before the county has struck a ball.

Both are definitely out of the quarter-final against Offaly at Nowlan Park on June 7, when Sky Sports will kicking off their involvement and big match coverage with the GAA.

Beyond that, the next critical date for the county is June 22 for a possible semi-final. Beyond that again the provincial final will be played in Croke Park on July 6.

Shefflin and Power picked up bad injuries, and the early prognosis was that they could be sidelined for up to six weeks.

After that, and depending on all going well, the players would require time to regain full fitness and match sharpness, so a lay-off of eight weeks would not be beyond the bounds of possibility.

In such a situation, Shefflin and Power would be hard pressed to make the Leinster final, if Kilkenny quality for it, which they didn’t last season.

No one close to the players is speculating about how long it might be before the two deadly strikers are able to return. There are serious concerns because the players will be losing vital training time as a stage in the season when all counties are stepping up their preparations.

Nine times All-Ireland medal winner, Henry Shefflin is back in a surgical boot after suffering a stress fracture to his left foot. The injury was revealed in a scan on Friday.

The last time Shefflin was struck down by such an injury the down time was estimated to be six weeks. As it turned out, the lay-off was longer.

The player had trained with his Ballyhale Shamrocks club on the Tuesday after helping Kilkenny to victory in the National League final against Tipperary. He didn’t train on the Thursday evening because there were concerns about the foot, and the bad news was confirmed the next morning.

Power’s hamstring injury is in the same leg. The Carrickshock man pulled the same hamstring weeks ago and he sat out the club’s opening local league tie against Tullaroan.

The following week he was left out of the Kilkenny match day squad for the National League semi-final against Galway in Limerick.

The 29-year-old was minded and nursed along by club and county, and for that reason this latest setback is hugely disappointing. Hamstring problems can be difficult to get right. That was why Power was given time and space to ease himself back into action.

A second tear of the same hamstring requires delicate handling, apparently, because if a player returns too soon the injury could flare up again and his season could be over.

Kilkenny manager, Brian Cody, had tried to maintain perspective amid growing enthusiasm in the media after the county’s hugely successful League campaign suggested they were back and ready to let rip in the championship.

“No matter how well things go, you could run into an injury situation which would change things,” Mr Cody said when speaking to the press on the pitch in Thurles.

“You would want to be very lucky to be always picking from a full panel,” he added.

Team management will be keeping their fingers crossed that all members of the squad come through the third series of club league matches, which will be played on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

The Kilkenny squad will be together on Sunday for the glamour challenge against All-Ireland champions, Clare to make the official opening of James Stephens new grounds on the Kells Road.

Next week it will be back to Nowlan Park to begin the preparations for the championship.

Kilkenny’s possible Leinster programme - June 7 v Offaly in quarter-final; June 22 v Galway or group runners-up in semi-final; July 6 Leinster final.