Paul Murphy is not expected home from the Lebanon until May
The two Kilkenny hurlers on peace keeping duties in South Lebanon will be cutting it fine if they are to be involved in the Leinster senior hurling championship.
Corporal Paul Murphy and Private Colin Fennelly, who are on overseas duty with the 111th Battalion of the Irish Army, will definitely miss the rest of the Allianz National Hurling League.
The Army has confirmed that the Battalion is not due home until May, with no exact date available at the moment.
If that is the case, Murphy and Fennelly wouldn’t make the Leinster championship opening clash in Parnell Park against Dublin on May 13.
The players would need two or three weeks at least to work on sharpening their game after returning, so they could also miss the second match against Offaly (May 20).
All going well they could be part of the panel for the clash against All-Ireland champions, Galway, in Salthill on May 27, but even that could be tight.
Kilkenny weren’t sure at the weekend when the pair were due to return home, but an Army source has told the ’People it was likely to be into May.
New League schedule
Meanwhile, the new schedule in the Hurling League could leave Kilkenny clubs with just one round of matches during April.
The Cats have qualified for the League semi-finals which have been refixed for Saturday, March 31 with the final on Sunday, April 8.
The snow at the weekend led to the postponement of the Wexford/Galway quarter-final, the winners of which will face Kilkenny in the semis.
That quarter-final has been rescheduled for Wexford Park on Saturday (3pm), with the semi the week after.
By the way, if Wexford win through to face the Noresiders, the likelihood is that the semi-final will be played in Wexford Park.
Our information is that the counties are set to enter a two game agreement. It would start with Kilkenny travelling for the first match.
Kilkenny had the first round of matches in the local senior, intermediate and junior hurling league/championships fixed for the weekend of April 1.
Plans for those games have had to be scrapped because the National League schedule was pushed back.
The second round of local league/championship games are scheduled for the weekend of April 14/15.
That round of games will go ahead, but the programme will be left free after that so the county squad can concentrate on preparing for what will be a tough and demanding Round Robin series in the Leinster championship.
However, if Kilkenny fail to make the League final, that would free up the weekend of April 7/8 which would be used for club matches.
Attacking ace, Kevin Kelly has confirmed that he will be out of action until July at least.
The St Patrick’s (Ballyragget) player has had knee surgery in Whitfield Clinic, Waterford to repair damage to the articular cartilage in his left knee.
He suffered the injury in the Leinster intermediate club final against Glenealy (Wicklow), but remarkably played in the All-Ireland final subsequently.
“I was shocked when I learned the full extent of the injury,” the 24-year-old Kilkenny panelist revealed.
Kelly will be on crutches for eight weeks after the surgery, but it could be three months before he will be able to resume light exercise.
“It is very disappointing, but there is nothing I can do,” Kevin explained.
“All I can do is work hard and get back playing as quickly as I can.”