Kilkenny prepare to count the cost of depleted squad

Michael Rice and Jamesie O'Connor spoke on tonight's Off The Ball ahead of Kilkenny's clash with Dublin in the Leinster hurling championship

Kilkenny, Hurling, Brian Cody

Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie 

Kilkenny will be hoping to put their league campaign behind them this weekend as they take on Dublin, but will be without Richie Hogan with a broken hand.

So to will they be without Ger Aylward, who misses their campaign with a cruciate injury. 

Speaking on tonight's Off The Ball Kilkenny's Michael Rice and Jamesie O'Connor assessed the players at the Cats' disposal and what approach they'll take to this year's Championship without a number of high profile players.

"What is different for Brian Cody this year is the personnel he has available to him," said O'Connor, "Ger Aylward is a big loss considering the form that he had shown in last year's Championship.

"Richie Power is retired and that's another strong face who'll be missing from the dressing room. Matthew Ruth and Mark Kelly I think have decided to leave the panel by their own volition. The reserves have become depleted so I think the challenge for Kilkenny is to keep Michael Fennelly, Eoin Larkin and TJ [Reid] fit if they are to go all the way.

"That era was always going to draw to a close, but when you go down through that team that's named, most of those guys have All-Ireland medals from 2014 and 2015, there were even a few who were there in 2011 and 2012 as well. So there's still a huge amount of experience and it'll be down to his ability to gradually reinvent the team." 

Rice explained that despite the levels of experience still present within the squad, there is still an unease among supporters as to how the team will fare against increasingly even competition.

 "There's certainly a sense of, I won't say pessimism around Kilkenny, but from talking to a few people they're somewhat worried about it.

"I think that's a good thing, it'll filter through to the team the concern or the fear of losing. That gives you a little extra edge when you're going out."