Kilkenny make five changes as axe falls


Life after DJ Carey's departure is proving to be no bed of roses for Kilkenny, and the team that will face Wexford in the National Hurling League at Nowlan Park on Sunday has undergone major surgery from that which fell to Cork in the opening match of the campaign.

The axe has been wielded, with no less than five changes in personnel: Dermot Maher, who will be making his league debut, and Willie O'Connor, who has recovered from a groin operation, are brought into the defence; Andy Comerford and Cannice Brennan comprise an entirely new centrefield pairing, and Shane Prendergast is called in to lead the attack. Maher, who plays with junior club Barrow Rangers, has a rich underage pedigree, with All-Ireland minor (1991) and under-21 (1994) medals, as well as an All-Ireland junior championship victory last year. Denis Byrne, Eddie Dwyer, Eamon Kennedy, John Costello and Ollie O'Connor are the players to lose out.

Meanwhile, veteran Wexford forward Billy Byrne has been returned to the substitutes' bench for the clash with Kilkenny. Larry Murphy, who has regained full fitness again after undergoing a nose operation, comes back into the side at full-forward in place of Byrne, while the only other change in the side sees former under-21 Declan Ruth take over from Shane Carley at centre-half back.

Ruth, a member of Enniscorthy Shamrocks, was on the Wexford senior panel back in 1996, but didn't figure last season. Carley is ruled out after suffering a shoulder injury in the win over Laois, when he was replaced by Ruth. Waterford's selectors have made one change for their match with Cork at Dungarvan. Stephen Brenner has been dropped in favour of previous incumbent Billy Landers, who held the goalkeeping position until he was displaced by Brenner in the South-East League over the winter.

It appears Brenner has paid the price for a time-wasting indiscretion late on in Waterford's league win over Tipperary, which cost them a 20-metre free but, thankfully, not the match. Dublin have made just one change from the side that beat Galway for their trip to play Antrim at Casement Park on Sunday. Former Kilkenny player Jamesie `Shiner' Brennan, who came on as a substitute for the injured Shane Martin in the game against Galway, has retained his place at right-half forward.

Brian McDonald will miss Laois's Leinster under-21 football championship semi-final meeting with Meath at Tullamore on Saturday. A member of last year's All-Ireland minor winning team, McDonald sustained an ankle ligament injury playing for Knockbeg College last week and has been ruled out for between eight to 12 weeks by Dr Pat O'Neill. His place at corner forward is taken by Stephen Kelly.

Wexford (SH v Kilkenny) - D Fitzhenry; C Kehoe, C Cush, D Berry; S Flood, D Ruth, L O'Gorman; A Fenlon, J Purcell; R McCarthy, M Storey, M Jordan; T Dempsey, L Murphy, P Codd.

Kilkenny (SH v Wexford) - J McGarry; L Keown, P Larkin, M Kavanagh; D Maher, P O'Neill, W O'Connor; A Comerford, C Brennan; P Barry, S Prendergast, S Ryan, N Moloney, PJ Delaney, C Carter.

Dublin (SH v Antrim) - B McLoughlin; J Finnegan, S Power, S Duignan; L Walsh, P Brady, D McMullen; D Sweeney, S Perkins; J Brennan, B O'Sullivan, C McCann; S Dalton, E Morrissey, T McGrane.

Waterford (SH v Cork) - B Landers; S Frampton, S Cullinane, M O'Sullivan; T Feeney, F Hartley, P Queally; T Browne, G Gater; B Greene, K McGrath, G Harris; D Shanahan, B O'Sullivan, P Flynn. Laois (U21F v Meath) - D O'Mahony; D O'Hara, M Buggy, J Higgins; N Collins, D Conroy, C Parkinson; N Garvan, M Delaney; G Ramsbottom, I Fitzgerald, C Conway; S Kelly, D Doogue, K Fitzpatrick.