Shefflin and Tennyson to start for Kilkenny

Shefflin and Tennyson to start for Kilkenny

All-time Championship top scorer Henry Shefflin and key defender John Tennyson have been included in the Kilkenny starting line-up for Sunday's All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship final against Tipperary at Croke Park (throw-in 3.30pm).

Cats boss Brian Cody has opted to include Shefflin despite the fact that he had been expected to miss the game. He suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury which forced him off in the 26th minute of Kilkenny's semi-final win over Cork.

However, the Ballyhale Shamrocks clubman returned to training on Wednesday week last in front of 8,000 spectators at an open session at Nowlan Park.

Since then he has played a full part in training, and has not shown any adverse reaction which ensures he is fit to start in the half-forward line.

Shefflin has scored 23-390 (459 points) in 57 Championship appearances, including 1-21 in this year's Championship.

Defenders Tennyson and Tommy Walsh had also been considered injury doubts in the lead up to this weekend's decider.

Tennyson sustained a ruptured cruciate but the Carrickshock player has been deemed fit to start, and will take the place of Brian Hogan who misses the game due to a finger injury.

Tennyson's inclusion in place of Hogan is the only change to the team which beat Cork by 3-22 to 0-19 in the semi-final.

In all, a total of 10 players who started last year's final have retained their places in the team.

Into the side come John Dalton, Noel Hickey, James 'Cha' Fitzpatrick, Michael Fennelly and TJ Reid, with Michael Kavanagh, Brian Hogan, Derek Lyng, Michael Rice and Richie Hogan losing out.

As his preparations reach into the final 48 hours, Kilkenny legend Cody says he is not letting the 'drive for five' sideshow get in the way of the approach to the game.

"I don't worry about the sideshow, I don't really have time for that, I just concentrate on the team and that's it," he said.

"It could be motivation for them more than us, because they'll say, 'we almost won it last year and we're going to finish it off this year.'

"That's understandable, we'd have been in that situation ourselves down through the years and done that as well, 2006 springs to mind.

"It's not the same for us. I suppose because we ended up winning it last year after a huge battle. Definitely motivation for them.

"It's an inevitability that you're going to be beaten at some stage, but you try and postpone it, you don't focus on things like that.

"I think it's also the fact that you don't want to lose this thing anyway, the thought of losing can always give you a real incentive to win.

"We can't get carried away with the fact that this is going to end. It is going to end, I just hope it's not this year," he added.

KILKENNY (SHC v Tipperary): PJ Ryan; J Dalton, N Hickey, J Tyrrell; T Walsh, J Tennyson, JJ Delaney; J 'Cha' Fitzpatrick, M Fennelly; TJ Reid (capt), H Shefflin, E Larkin; E Brennan, R Power, A Fogarty.

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