Kelly’s inclusion in manager Conor Counihan’s team has sparked speculation that the Ballincollig clubman will be asked to pick up Donegal’s roving dynamo Mark McHugh.
Kelly has been named at centre forward but possesses the energy levels and running power to track McHugh, whose ability to pick up possession in deep-lying positions and instigate Donegal attacks is a key weapon in the Ulster champions’ weaponry.
Kelly’s inclusion in the team is the only change in personnel from the team that defeated Kildare in the All-Ireland quarter-final. In that game, Kelly replaced Ciarán Sheehan before half-time.
Counihan has decided to leave Sheehan out of his starting line-up to accommodate the return of Kelly, who missed the Munster final victory over Clare through injury before making that substitute’s appearance in the facile victory over the Lilywhites.
Ray Carey’s return to fitness ensured that Counihan had a full deck to choose from when he sat down to pick his team.
Carey missed out on Avondhu’s recent victory over Ilen Rovers after tweaking his hamstring in the Kildare win but has returned to full fitness and has been named at right corner back.
Pearse O’Neill and Daniel Goulding were also pushing for starting places in attack after impressing in substitute roles against Kildare.
But the pair will have to be content with places on the bench yet again, with Counihan’s list of replacements not yet released.
Meanwhile, Kilkenny are unchanged from the team that beat Laois in the Leinster final for tomorrow’s Bord Gáis Energy All-Ireland U21 hurling semi-final showdown with Galway at Semple Stadium.
Senior stars Richie Doyle and Cillian Buckley are included in the starting line-up.
Elsewhere, Munster champions Clare have made one change in personnel to the team that beat Tipperary in the provincial final for tomorrow’s Bord Gáis Energy All-Ireland U21 hurling semi-final against Antrim in Thurles.
Cathal McInerney comes into the starting line-up in place of David O’Halloran. 2012 senior panel member McInerney replaced Halloran in the 42nd minute of the gripping Munster final win and claims a starting place at corner forward.
CORK (SFC v Donegal): A Quirke; R Carey, M Shields, E Cadogan; P Kissane, G Canty, N O’Leary; A O’Connor, A Walsh; F Goold, P Kelly, P Kerrigan; C O’Neill, D O’Connor, N Murphy.
KILKENNY (U21 HC v Galway): D Walsh; J Corcoran, W Phelan, B Kennedy; L Harney, R Doyle, J Lyng; G Brennan, O Walsh; K Kelly, P Walsh, C Buckley; W Walsh, J Power, G Aylward.
CLARE (U21 HC v Antrim): R Taaffe; P Flanagan, D McInerney, K Ryan; S Morey, C Ryan, P O’Connor; C Galvin, S Golden; T Kelly, P Collins, A Cunningham; C O’Connell, C McGrath, C McInerney.
ANTRIM (U21 HC v Clare): J O’Mullan; R McCloskey, R Gillan, C Morgan; J Black, M Donnelly, J McCouaig; A McKeown, S McAfee; M Devlin, S Dobbin, K McKiernan; N Elliot, C McCann, D McCloskey.
MAYO (MFC v Meath): C O’Malley; J Geraghty, S Moran, M Plunkett; P Durcan, C Burke, K Lynch; B Mullen, A Gallagher; E Lavin, S Coen, D O’Connor; J Quinn, S Regan, S Hennelly.