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cat-astrophe Kilkenny suffer another blow as Colin Fennelly takes year out

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Colin Fennelly is to take a year out from inter-county hurling with Kilkenny. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Colin Fennelly is to take a year out from inter-county hurling with Kilkenny. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Colin Fennelly is to take a year out from inter-county hurling with Kilkenny. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Brian Cody has been hit with another major blow ahead of Kilkenny’s 2021 campaign as last year's captain Colin Fennelly is set to take a year away from the fold.

Fennelly has been one of Kilkenny's marquee forwards since making a successful step up to the senior ranks a decade ago, but the two-time All-Star has informed Cody of his desire to step aside for a season to recharge the batteries after a hectic club and county schedule.

The 31-year-old is understood to have the blessing of the 11-time All-Ireland-winning manager and he is expected to rejoin the fold in 2022 after taking some time out to regain his appetite for county action and focus on work commitments.

Fennelly's departure comes hot on the heels of the retirements of defensive linchpin Paul Murphy and All-Star forward Ger Aylward, with the quick turnaround between inter-county seasons said to be at the root of his decision having only ceased county action in late November.

The four-time All-Ireland winner has had little time to rest and recuperate in recent seasons, with gruelling back-to-back All-Ireland successes for Ballyhale Shamrocks in 2019 and ’20 drastically reducing his off-season, and it seemed to catch up last year as his clinical goalscoring touch eluded him with Kilkenny.

Fennelly skippered the Cats to Leinster success, their first since 2016, but he didn't look his usual dynamic self and was surprisingly dropped for their All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Waterford along with Walter Walsh.

The Ballyhale star is understood to be adamant that he will resume his inter-county career next year, but his experience in attack will be sorely missed with club-mate TJ Reid expected to pick up the slack in his absence.

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