Kilkenny have been hit with a blow on two fronts ahead of their first round All-Ireland qualifier, for which the draw is being made on Monday.
Two-time All-Ireland winner with the Cats, John Power has walked from the panel.
The Irish Independent have reported that Power, younger brother and son of county legends Richie Jr. and Richie Sr. respectively, has become increasingly frustrated with lack of game time for Kilkenny this year.
Having failed to nail down a first team position in the Noresider’s attack and falling out of favour with Brian Cody and his management team this year, the 24-year-old has decided to quit the set-up with immediate effect.
The Carrickshock club hurler will likely be sorely missed within the group for the remainder of the championship, with Cody’s forward line options appearing thin on the ground following the defeat to Wexford in the Leinster semi-final earlier this month.
In other majorly disappointing news for Kilkenny, Michael Fennelly has suffered an injury setback on his journey to returning from the torn achilles tendon which he sustained in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final replay against Waterford. He underwent surgery last August to heal the rupture and finds himself still on the comeback trail and in a race against time to feature in the first round of the back door qualifiers.
Fennelly had returned to line out for his club, Ballyhale Shamrocks against James Stephens in Kilkenny and it appeared as though he was set to be a force for the Cats in 2017. However, he aggravated the tendon issue in training before that loss to Davy Fitzgerald’s side in Innovative Wexford Park and subsequently missed out on that tie, having been hopeful of playing some part.
Speaking to The Kilkenny People on the matter, the 2011 Hurler of the Year explained the unfortunate situation which leaves him unsure of the time frame on his return to action in black and amber.
“It’s a setback, but that’s part and parcel of these long injuries
“Anytime you get a long term injury, a cruciate or an achilles, normally it kicks off something else,” admitted Fennelly.
“I’m just trying to get it right now as soon as possible and get back training. But it’s proving difficult at the moment.”
This is news that will come as a great cause of concern to Kilkenny followers. There is a general perception that Cody has his greatest challenge as manager of the county since taking the reigns in 1998 in rescuing this year’s championship campaign before it is all over following an extremely short summer.
Fennelly’s presence and influence in the middle of the field is something that’s would go a long way to seeing Cody’s side hit top form again, where as Power would have provided a lively, well needed option from the bench aswell as being a source of strength in depth for the squad.
With the prospect of being drawn against tough teams such as Tipperary, Waterford, Limerick or Dublin in Monday’s qualifier draw, these are not the type of stories the Noreside folk would be wishing to hear seep out of the Cats’ camp.