Kilkenny manager Brian Cody is expecting the battle for Allianz NHL semi-final spots to become a “dogfight”.

Cody was speaking following his side’s five-point win over Waterford which garnered them their first points of the league campaign.

With two rounds remaining Clare and Tipperary lead the way in Division 1A on four points, followed by Waterford and Cork on three, with Kilkenny and Galway at the foot of the table on two points.

“This league is just so tight. We have teams beating each other and there is no real line of form. There is no one stepping up and winning all before them.”

“It’s going to be fierce interesting to see who will (qualify for the semi-finals). Certainly for the third place it’s going to be a real dogfight.”

"We have teams beating each other and there is no real line of form" - Brian Cody

Cody was also optimistic about several of his big name stars who are on the comeback from injury, although talisman Henry Shefflin is still a long-term absentee with a broken bone in his ankle which he sustained on club duty in early December.

“Henry is a fair bit away from playing. He is still in rehab and working away in the background. He is not with us at all yet from the point of view of any kind of training at all.”

“We obviously have other injuries as well. TJ (Reid) is working away too. Michael Rice will hopefully be back very shortly. Michael Fennelly is not too far away.

"Cillian Buckley and Walter Walsh are getting very close to coming back too. So we have a few players that we hope are not too far away, but we lost a few more against Waterford.

“It has been that type of year.”