Kilkenny’s Colin Fennelly has aired concerns about the injury woes older brother Michael has faced in recent years.
Michael, the 2011 hurler of the year, suffered serious ankle injuries in 2012 and 2013 before a knee injury last year followed by back problems that ruled him out of three games during the summer.
Speaking at yesterday’s AIB All-Ireland Club final press conference, Colin said his sibling has had it difficult as Ballyhale Shamrocks prepare for the March 17 date with Kilmallock in Croke Park.
“It’s been very awkward. I’d a full year last year, free from injury. He barely trained and it’s hard for him mentality-wise to know if he’s going to be fit enough going into games. To know if his first touch is strong enough.
“He’s problems with knees, ankles, back... the whole lot. I’ve no problems with anything whereas he has problems with everything constantly. It probably plays on his mind for his future.”
The younger Fennelly hopes to be back available to Brian Cody for the Division 1 quarter-finals should they advance.
“I want to go straight back into it with Kilkenny. The hunger is there. I haven’t played a match with Kilkenny all year.
“I’ll be watching all the league games and every time you see a league match you want to be playing in it. As much as you give out and say it’s match-after-match, you want to be there too.”
The 25-year-old supports the one-on-one penalty and advantage rule which were introduced to hurling by Congress last weekend. “It was a good decision because the advantage has to be with the forwards.
They’re going through on goal, getting pulled down. I think the advantage has to be with them.
The other way, the advantage wasn’t there. Everyone saw that in the All-Ireland final. There’s a massive change now. You saw in the league final last year we got two penalties, scored both. Tipperary got two penalties in the All-Ireland (and didn’t score them). Hard to justify.”
Meanwhile, Kilmallock manager Ger O’Loughlin said Ballyhale’s experience of Croke Park gives them a distinct advantage on St Patrick’s Day. The south Limerick outfit visited GAA HQ last month but only for a look.
“It’s not the ideal situation. We are expected to go up there on the 17th and perform to the best of our ability and yet it’s disappointing you can’t get a run out on the pitch.What we were offered was a date the following week for 20 minutes to go out for a puck about or something like that. But it’s a long journey up from Limerick to go out on the field for 20 minutes, so it was never going to work.”
O’Loughlin reported a clean bill of health for Kilmallock as has Corofin manager Stephen Rochford for the football final. Christopher Bradley (collarbone) is Slaughtneil’s only injury.
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