Virus ends Hickey's season

Leinster champions Kilkenny will have to soldier through the rest of the All-Ireland Hurling Championship without full-back Noel Hickey.

The 2003 AllStar contracted a mysterious virus last week, causing him to miss training and make an unscheduled visit to St Luke's Hospital for tests last Friday.

With a viral infection now confirmed, the Dunnamaggin defender will be sorely missed by Brian Cody's side, having been ever-present and started both of the Cats' Leinster outings against Offaly and Wexford.

Cody, ahead of Sunday week's quarter-final with Limerick, was handed another injury worry last night when Richie Power was forced off early in the Leinster U21 final with a serious shoulder injury.

Skipper Peter Barry (groin) and half-forward Andy Comerford (groin) are already doubtful for Kilkenny.

Meanwhile, Laois manager Paudie Butler has made four changes to his side for Saturday's All-Ireland SH relegation semi-final against Dublin.

Kevin Galvin replaces Paddy Mullaney (thumb) between the sticks, Joe Phelan makes way for Enda Maher at midfield, while Brian Campion and Cahir Healy deputise in defence.

Team skipper Phelan will be away on holidays for the game.

LAOIS (SH v Dublin): K Galvin; B Campion, P Cuddy, C Healy; M McEvoy, John Walsh, S O'Dwyer; James Walsh, E Maher; J Rowney, J Young, L Tynan; T Fitzgerald, M Rooney, D Culleton.

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