Shefflin returns for Kilkenny
HENRY SHEFFLIN returns to the Kilkenny team against Dublin tomorrow for his first competitive fixture since last year’s All-Ireland final. Shoulder surgery kept him out of the successful league campaign but he has been back in action with his club in the past few weeks.
Tomorrow’s Leinster semi-final will be his 57th successive championship start, a sequence covering the entirety of manager Brian Cody’s tenure.
Although Hurler of the Year Michael Fennelly and fellow All Star Michael Rice are both missing, most of the other injuries appear to have cleared up with Richie Power, Richie Hogan and Cillian Buckley all cleared for take off in a team featuring two championship debutants: Buckley, who starts at centrefield and wing back Richie Doyle.
Dublin for their part have made one change to the team that dismissed Laois in the first round for tomorrow’s eagerly awaited match in Portlaoise.
Ryan O’Dwyer, who was suspended for the last match, returns to the attack in place of David Treacy.
Meanwhile Tipperary will start Eoin Kelly, their All-Ireland winning captain from two years ago, on the bench for Sunday’s Munster hurling semi-final against Cork in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
The move had been expected, as the much decorated forward has been struggling for form.
He is one of three changes from the team that came late to beat Limerick in the first round.
Also out are corner back Donagh Maher and centrefielder James Woodlock with Patrick Maher (who made an impressive return from injury the last day), Conor O’Brien and Shane McGrath coming into the starting line-up.
There is still no place in the starting line-up for former Hurler of the Year Lar Corbett, who came out of a short-lived retirement last month, but he will be expected to make an appearance from the bench.
Cork make major changes from the side beaten in last month’s league final. Five of the starters, including another former All-Ireland winning captain Seán Ó hAilpín and John Gardiner, from the match that ended in a heavy defeat by Kilkenny make way with Anthony Nash selected in goal, Conor O’Sullivan in the full-back line, Tom Kenny, Darren Sweetnam and Cathal Naughton coming in.
The others dropped are goalkeeper Martin Coleman, who isn’t in the match-day panel, and full back Stephen McDonnell.
Niall McCarthy is injured, as is captain and long-term casualty Donal Cusack.