With three weeks to go until Kilkenny open their 2017 championship campaign with a Leinster semi-final against either Wexford or Laois, they have received a timely boost with the return of Michael Fennelly to training.
The Cats have been without Fennelly since he ruptured his achilles tendon in the All Ireland semi-final replay against Waterford last August. The 2011 Hurler of The Year underwent surgery to heal the torn tendon and has been on a rehabilitation programme since then in efforts to return to the playing field.
Brian Cody’s charges struggled to gather any momentum in the national league this spring, showing signs of inconsistency before succumbing to Davy Fitzgerald’s Yellow-bellies at the quarter-final stage at Nowlan Park. They will therefore welcome the return to fitness of the Ballyhale Shamrocks clubman around midfield for them with open arms. Fennelly will provide the side with stability and invaluable leadership going forward.
The eight-time Celtic cross winner featured in an in-house challenge game between the Kilkenny seniors and under 21’s last weekend, making it through 20 minutes with no ill-effects to report, The Independent have reported.
It remains to be seen whether the 32-year-old will be match-fit in time to play a part for the Cats in the opening of their Leinster title defence on June 10th, nonetheless the news of his return to the fold will come as music to the ears of Kilkenny fans.
The three-time All Star could be in line to appear for his club this weekend, when Ballyhale take on James Stephens in the third round of the Kilkenny senior hurling league, which would certainly aid in getting the midfield powerhouse back up to championship pace as his recovery nears completion.