CILLIAN BUCKLEY played no part for the Kilkenny U21s as they confirmed a spot in the Leinster final with a 3-20 to 4-6 victory over Wexford in Nowlan Park last night as doubts persist about the rookie's fitness ahead of Saturday's crunch Leinster SHC semi-final against Dublin in Portlaoise (5.0).
A persistent hamstring problem has dogged the Dicksboro man since Kilkenny's league final trouncing of Cork last month and with midfield powerhouses Michael Fennelly and Michael Rice now almost certain to miss out through injury, Buckley's absence in the same position could be keenly felt. Both Buckley and Richie Hogan were confined to light jogging duties last Saturday in training in Nowlan Park while Richie Power never togged out as he received treatment on a knee problem and Kilkenny's injury misfortune was complete when captain Eoin Larkin hobbled off the pitch mid-session.
However, outside of Rice and Fennelly, all are expected to be sufficiently fit to play some part against Dublin and Cody is set to finalise his starting 15 tomorrow night, a selection which is expected to include Henry Shefflin for the first time since last September's All-Ireland final. The Cats U21s will face Laois in the Bord Gáis Energy Leinster U21HC decider on July 11.
Kilkenny recovered from an early Wexford blast of 1-4 to rattle off a convincing riposte which saw them enter the tunnel at half-time clutching a 2-9 to 1-5 lead - John Power and Walter Walsh claiming the goals.
And once Walsh netted his second soon after the restart and when Willie Devereux was sent off on a second yellow card, the remainder of the exchanges proved largely academic.
Laois, meanwhile, survived a scare in Dr Cullen Park, eventually prevailing by just a point - 0-15 to 0-14 - over Carlow.