Four of Kilkenny’s most experienced players have ended months of speculation surrounding their futures with the county set-up by committing to another season of intercounty hurling.
Ballyhale Shamrocks stars Joey Holden and Colin Fennelly announced their retirements late last year and there was expectation that more would follow suit as Kilkenny go in search of a first All-Ireland title in seven years.
That is not the case, however, as manager Brian Cody can look forward to 2022 with the knowledge that he will have some of his most experienced veterans lining out for him once more.
Danesfort sharpshooter Richie Hogan has opted against hanging up his boots despite only making one championship appearance in 2021 as a substitute in the All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Cork.
Although he has suffered from a serious back injury in recent years, the 33-year-old will prolong a glittering intercounty career that has spanned sixteen seasons with four All-Stars and the 2014 Hurler of the Year to his name.
Tullogher Rosbercon clubman Walter Walsh has also followed suit by confirming that he will be available for selection this season.
Walsh broke onto the scene in 2012 when he scored 1-03 in the All-Ireland final replay victory against Galway and has been a mainstay in Cody’s starting fifteen for close to a decade but has somewhat fallen out of favour for recent games.
Two players plagued by injury, Cillian Bucklely and Conor Fogarty, will be donning the black and amber in 2022 alongside Hogan and Walsh giving 11-time All-Ireland winning manager Cody a mixture of experience and youth to pick from as Kilkenny look to end their All-Ireland famine.
TJ Reid is expected to return to the fold as soon as the All-Ireland series with his club Ballyhale Shamrocks concludes.