Kilkenny need to 'throw caution to the wind' with youngsters as questions remain over injuries

Richie Power believes their panel needs to be shaken up.

Brian Cody and his Kilkenny players last Saturday.
Brian Cody and his Kilkenny players last Saturday.
Image: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

IT’S ONLY THE third time in 20 seasons that they face the scenario of not competing in a Leinster final and Richie Power feels a youth policy is one Kilkenny must pursue as they seek to revive their season on the qualifier stage.

The eight-time All-Ireland winner believes it is time to ‘throw caution to the wind’ as question marks persist over the depth of Kilkenny’s panel.

“Now it is at a stage where Kilkenny are probably in a transition period.

“If this year doesn’t go to plan then you are looking at a building process, but I think this is the time to unearth these players. We have seen it in the past with Brian, he has pulled a few rabbits out of the hat.

“Throw caution to the wind, see what he has in the panel and then you know going forward where Kilkenny are actually at.

“Is that strength in depth there? Does Brian have confidence in the guys that are in the 26? They are questions that will be answered over the coming weeks.

“If he keeps going back to the regulars and to the same group of players that is going to go completely against you and the well is going to run dry. Whereas I think he needs to start breathing new life into the set-up and team.

Richie Power Richie Power at the Bord Gáis Energy Legends Tour launch

“Opposition never worried Brian. When they are put in front of him then he will worry about them, but it is all about getting the guys and the set-up inside right.

“That is the most important thing now after Saturday night. That is going to hurt our guys, I was talking to one or two of them after Saturday, it hurts.

“Straightaway they are being written off. In the past that has worked to Kilkenny’s advantage so you are just hoping it will go the same route again.”

Power was concerned before last Saturday’s Leinster semi-final against Wexford and queries the wisdom to start players who had been plagued by injuries.

“I wasn’t surprised at the result to be honest, I was worried about it.

“From a Kilkenny point of view we were hearing whispers about injuries and guys not being 100%.  I just couldn’t understand how Padraig Walsh was started on Saturday night, it just didn’t make any sense to me.

“I thought it was very unfair on the chap, maybe Padraig put his hand up and said he felt okay, I don’t know.

“But number one they started him and number two for a guy that has played full back the whole league campaign to suddenly be started centre forward was very questionable.

“Padraig was one, to me Richie Hogan didn’t look a shadow of himself either. I know he has been struggling with back spasms, which he has struggled with in the past.

“Ger Aylward, was he match fit? Michael Fennelly crying off before the game was a massive blow as well.

“It just goes to show that probably three or four years ago it wouldn’t have happened.”

Richie Hogan, Ger Aylward and Diarmuid O’Keefe Richie Power and Ger Aylward challenge Wexford's Diarmuid O'Keeffe Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Uncertainty surrounds the potential return of Kilkenny’s talisman Michael Fennelly, out of action since rupturing his Achilles last August against Waterford.

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“That is the big question,” admits Power.

“He is coming back from one of the worst injuries you can get. I was at the (club) game between the Shamrocks and James Stephens, he looked in good shape.

“He lasted that 60 minutes, but obviously he got a bad reaction after the game and wasn’t able to take his position on the 26.

“That is going to be very interesting. (It’s a) serious injury, he is a year older. (His) body isn’t able to recover as quickly as it was when he was in his 20′s.

Michael Fennelly goes off injured Michael Fennelly goes off injured against Waterford last August. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t. I really hope he does because he has put in so much hard work.

“It is going to be a big ask and they have three or four weeks to get it right, you are just hoping that they will do it.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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