Cork v Kilkenny: Teams named for league semi at Páirc Uí Chaoimh

Over 20,000 fans are expected to flock to the Páirc for the meeting of hurling's greatest rivals
Cork v Kilkenny: Teams named for league semi at Páirc Uí Chaoimh

Robbie O'Flynn had a stormer in last year's All-Ireland semi-final win over Kilkenny at Croke Park. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

CORK have picked their strongest possible line-up for Saturday's Allianz NHL semi-final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 7.15pm, but are without vice-captain Seán O'Donoghue due to injury, while Tim O'Mahony and Seamus Harnedy are on the bench as they are carrying knocks.

The Rebels were defeated in their last league outing away to Wexford after resting a host of key players, having previously got the better of Clare, Limerick, Galway and Offaly.

They were without marquee players like Patrick Horgan, Robbie O'Flynn, Darragh Fitzgibbon, Patrick Collins and captain Mark Coleman, but they'll all be back for the clash with the Cats.

Cork captain Mark Coleman in action against Cian Boland of Dublin. Picture: INPHO/Ken Sutton
Cork captain Mark Coleman in action against Cian Boland of Dublin. Picture: INPHO/Ken Sutton

A huge crowd hitting the 20,000-mark is expected on Saturday night, given the appeal of the pairing and the great weather. 

Cork and Kilkenny meet in an U20 challenge beforehand at 5.15pm. Senior rookies Ciarán Joyce and Daire O'Leary are U20 but won't be eligible for the Munster championship at that grade due to their involvement with Kieran Kingston's squad.

Cork were last in a league semi-final in 2015, storming back to pip Dublin thanks to a late Seamus Harnedy point, but were subsequently beaten in the decider by Waterford. The last league title was annexed in 1998 when current selector Diarmuid O'Sullivan was captain.

The Déise face Wexford in the second semi-final on Sunday.

CORK v Kilkenny:

Patrick Collins (Ballinhassig);

Niall O’Leary (Castlelyons), Daire O’Leary (Watergrasshill), Damien Cahalane (St Finbarr’s); 

Robert Downey (Glen Rovers), Mark Colman (Blarney, c), Ciarán Joyce (Castlemartyr);

Darragh Fitzgibbon (Charleville), Ger Millerick (Fr O’Neills);

Robbie O’Flynn (Erin's Own), Shane Barrett (Blarney), Conor Lehane (Midleton); 

Alan Connolly (Blackrock), Patrick Horgan (Glen Rovers), Shane Kingston (Douglas).

Subs: Ger Collins (Ballinhassig), Sean O’Leary Hayes (Midleton), Tommy O’Connell (Midleton), Sam Quirke (Midleton), Luke Meade (Newcestown), Tim O’Mahony (Newtownshandrum), Mark Keane (Ballygiblin), Conor Cahalane (St Finbarr’s), Seamus Harnedy (St Ita’s), Jack O’Connor (Sarsfields), Sean Twomey (Courcey Rovers).

Kilkenny will lean heavily on their half-forward line of Walter Walsh, Pádraig Walsh and Eoin Cody in the absence of TJ Reid, who has yet to feature this spring having been on duty with Ballyhale Shamrocks in the All-Ireland club final.

Eoin Murphy is in goal with Huw Lawlor and Paddy Deegan in the spine of their defence, while newcomer Cian Kenny and veteran Cillian Buckley are in midfield.

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