Kilkenny captain Colin Fennelly has decided to sit out the 2021 inter-county season, but is expected to return to the fold next year. 

Brian Cody will have to plan for the forthcoming campaign without his influential full-forward, who picked up All Star awards in 2014 and 2019. 

The five-time All-Ireland winner led the Cats to provincial glory last November, but was dropped for the All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Waterford, coming on as a 49th-minute replacement for Billy Ryan. 

RTÉ Sport understands the 31-year-old, who was central to Ballyhale's back-to-back All-Ireland successes in 2019 and 2020, informed Cody of his intention to take a 12-month break before going again in 2022.

"The best of luck to Colin Fennelly during his year out," Ballyhale Shamrocks tweeted last night.

In the last week, four-time All-Ireland winning defender Paul Murphy and 28-year-old forward Ger Aylward have called time on their Kilkenny careers, while Thomas Kenny, Enda Morrissey, Luke Scanlon and Bill Sheehan won’t be part of the squad for the forthcoming season.