This Sunday the 18th of August Tipperary will take on Kilkenny in the All-Ireland senior Hurling final for 2019.
Will it be Kilkenny’s TJ Reid or Tipperary’s Seamus Callanan to walk the steps at Croke Park to lift the famous Liam McCarthy trophy this year?
Both teams last faced each other in the final in 2016, with Tipperary winning on that day. The close-bordered rivals have contested six All-Ireland’s in the last 10 years against each other and will look to get one up on their opponents this time around.
Both teams faced tough tests in the semi-final stages of this years competition two weeks ago. Kilkenny faced current champions Limerick and Tipperary took on Davy Fitzgerald’s Wexford.
Cody’s Kilkenny scored a 1-21 to 2-17 narrow one point victory which was a huge result for a team who have been written off all season long. Never write off Kilkenny!
Tipperary have faced Wexford three times this year, holding one win each and a draw. However Kilkenny progressed to the final which only matters.
Tipp’s semi-final victory over Wexford will long be remembered as one of the sweetest victories for Tipperary hurling, winning by two points on a scoreline of 1-28 to 3-20.
The old guard led the fight-back when Tipp were reduced to 14 men and five points down, with the young guns making an impact from the bench.
Liam Sheedy’s first year back in charge has been an excellent one. It’s now 10 years since Sheedy first managed a Tipperary senior hurling team in an All-Ireland Final and it seems fitting that the anniversary will be marked by another battle against the same opposition.
Sheedy was the man responsible for ending Kilkenny’s ‘drive for five’ in 2010. Something the Dublin Footballers are going for in two weeks time and has never been done before.
Kilkenny’s Brian Cody has guided the Cats for 21 years, in that time winning 11 Liam McCarthy’s and contesting for his 17th this Sunday.
Tipperary have beaten Kilkenny in just two out of the six All-Ireland’s the teams have contested in the last 10 years, the first in 2010 and most recently in 2016.
The three All-Ireland’s that Kilkenny won in the same period in 2009, 2011, and 2014 replay were tighter, tenser sort of contests. This Sunday should be the same.
Both managers have a lot of respect for each other as the Cody-Sheedy battle continues. Who will come out on top?
On the field the game will be dependent on who dominates the middle of the field and who wins their individual battles.
Kilkenny’s TJ Reid will be marked by Brendan Maher and Tipp’s John O’Dwyer needs to take Padraig Walsh out of it completely.
Huw Lawlor or Paul Murphy will need to man-mark Seamus Callanan. He’s scored a goal in every Championship match played this year and if he scores another to bring his all-time tally to 35, then he’ll draw level with Kilkenny great Eddie Keher on the all-time goal-scoring list.
The platform for Tipperary’s success will focus on how mobile Poddy Maher and Noel McGrath can be in the middle of the park. Kilkenny will look to combat them with both Conor Fogarty and Richie Leahy following as runners.
The youthful exuberance both sides have integrated into their panels have worked wonders this year. Tipp’s Jake Morris who scored that fabulous point against Limerick in the semis, Ger Browne and Mark Kehoe have game them extra legs coming off the bench which is important in today’s intensity.
Kilkenny’s Adrian Mullen has arguably been the young player of the year so far and stood out for his club Ballyhale Shamrocks in their All-Ireland Club victory earlier this year.
This added youth mixed with their ‘old heads’ has certainly been a recipe for success. Calling the outcome is tough as both teams are so evenly matched, anyone can win on the day!
Date: Sunday 18th August
Venue-Croke Park Dublin
Broadcast-Sky Sports and RTE One
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