Kilkenny will play Wexford in their opening fixture in the Leinster Hurling Championship semi-final at Wexford Park on Saturday.
The Black Cats will be hoping the talismanic Henry Shefflin will get off to a good start against Wexford, after his last appearance in a championship game ended in disappointment when he went off injured in the All-Ireland Final defeat to Tipperary.
Wexford will look to emulate the success of their under-21 team, who beat Kilkenny 1-17 to 2-12 in the U21 Leinster Hurling Championship on Tuesday, but the senior team may have a more difficult task ahead of them as Kilkenny look to defend their title as champions of Leinster.
Black Cats manager Brian Cody has named midfielder Michael Fennelly in the starting XV; Fennelly looked set to miss this fixture having broken a bone in his hand in April in the Allianz Hurling League and hasn’t played a game since but he will line out in Wexford on Saturday with David Herity replacing PJ Ryan in goals.
JJ Delaney and Eoin Larkin return to the Kilkenny starting line-up after appearing for their clubs recently, having previously missed a challenge match against Waterford, while Tommy Walsh will not feature after having taken part in full training this week but ultimately failing to recover from a recurring shoulder injury and will be replaced by Paddy Hogan at half-back.
Wexford have handed a first championship start to Garret Sinnott, who will come in at full forward in the place of Éanna Martin, which sees the forward line that beat Antrim by nine points changed in favour of a debut for the Oulart-the-Ballagh man.
Wexford manager Colm Bonnard has also given Paul Roche a place back in the team with Ciarán Kenny reverting back to his more familiar wing-back position and Roche coming in at corner-back after recovering from an injury to his calf that he suffered last week in training.
The change sees Michael Jacob joining Martin on the bench to complete the two changes to the Wexford team that has an otherwise familiar look to it.
Wexford Captain Darren Stamp will be hoping there will be no reoccurrence of the calf injury that made him miss training before this game; his appearance on the team sheet expressing the confidence that he will be able to perform his duties at centre-back without any problems.
This tie has lost its glamour somewhat in the last few years with Kilkenny’s dominance making them firm favourites to come out on top and meet either Dublin or Galway in the Leinster final on the 3rd of July.
The two teams last meeting in March saw Kilkenny come out on top, 2-16 to 0-17, a comfortable enough victory for the Black Cats who eventually topped Division 1 with Wexford sitting in a disappointing 7th place.
Wexford: N Breen; P Roche, M O’Hanlon, K Rossiter; L Prendergast, D Stamp (capt), C Kenny; W Doran, D Redmond; PJ Nolan, H Kehoe, S Banville; R Jacob, G Sinnott, J Berry.
Kilkenny: D Herity; P Murphy, N Hickey, J Tyrrell; P Hogan, B Hogan, JJ Delaney; M Fennelly, M Rice; TJ Reid, R Power, E Larkin; C Fennelly, H Shefflin, R Hogan.