Cody has to plan without towers of defence

KILKENNY manager Brian Cody is philosophical about the mini-injury crisis that has befallen his team ahead of Sunday week’s All-Ireland hurling quarter-final clash against Limerick.

Confirming yesterday that full-back Noel Hickey is out of action for the remainder of the season because of a viral infection, he stressed the player’s health was his main concern and that he had been reassured on that front.

“He will be fine, but it looks like he won’t hurl for the rest of the year,’’ he said.

Former Cork senior footballer Colin Corkery was diagnosed in 1999 with a similar condition which threatened his sporting career.

“I was forced to completely change my lifestyle,” said Corkery yesterday.

“Thankfully I’ve had no recurrence. My problem manifested itself during the 1999 county final drawn game. Fortunately for me I was on the right medication at the time and got through both games, but a few weeks later, while training in Pairc Uí Rinn with Cork, I began to get dizzy and found it hard to breathe.

“A day or two later I suffered a black-out. It was a scary time and I spent two three-week periods in hospital undergoing all sorts of tests to find out what was wrong.

“I was finally diagnosed with a viral infection in the wall of my heart and ordered to change my lifestyle completely if I wanted to continue playing.

“I did that and thankfully there has been no recurrence. It allowed me to continue playing and I’m in line for inclusion with the club’s intermediate team for tomorrow night’s championship clash with St Vincent’s.

“If I feel the symptoms coming back I can control it. I can understand the worry Noel Hickey is going through. Fortunately for him and me, we were diagnosed very quickly and with the proper treatment, everything will turn out fine for Noel.

“It’s a difficult time for him and his family, and I’m sure I speak for all hurlers and footballers when I extend our best wishes to him for a speedy recovery.”

Meanwhile, Cats’ captain Peter Barry also remains “very doubtful” for the showdown against Limerick and former minor star Richie Power also has a fitness fight on his hands if he is to be able to play.

Cody explained that the situation relating to Hickey’s health had only “unravelled in the last few days”.

Combined with the possible loss of Barry with a groin injury, he agreed that it potentially represented a major blow to their championship prospects.

Barry remains very doubtful because of a groin injury he picked up in the Leinster final against Wexford but Cody said that at this stage they weren’t ruling him out.

The news on Power yesterday was good to the extent that an X-ray revealed that he didn’t suffer any bone damage in the incident in the first minute of Wednesday evening’s Leinster Under-21 final against Dublin in Carlow.

Cody said with Power it would be a case of “wait and see”.

In the interim, he accepted that the Kilkenny management had to face up to the possibility that they could line out against Limerick “with the heart of the defence gone”.

“My respect and my opinion of these two players (Hickey and Barry) is very high, but the reality is that at the end of the day they may both have to be replaced.

“And two players who did not play the last day will come into the team,’’ Cody added.

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