After last weekend’s football semi-finals, this Sunday afternoon our attention turns to the Hurling showpiece.
Kilkenny and Tipperary meet in Croke Park for yet another All-Ireland Hurling Final, which sees Brian Cody and Liam Sheedy renew their rivalry on the touchline.
The last time they shared the touchline together was the 2010 All-Ireland Final, when Sheedy’s Tipperary prevented Cody’s Kilkenny from achieving a record-breaking “5 in a Row”.
The game throws in at 3:30pm and it will be televised live on RTÉ2.
Although these are two of the traditional hurling counties, with 63 All-Ireland Titles between them, very few would have predicted this final at the beginning of the year.
Kilkenny were seen as a team in transition and there were some serious questions on why Liam Sheedy was reverting back to the old guard, and choosing experienced players over youth.
Once again these two great managers have proved their doubters wrong to set up this intriguing All-Ireland final.
This contest serves up some fascinating battles all over the field. Like in every big game, both management teams will be hoping to curb the influence of the opposition’s key players.
Of course both of these teams have a host of top quality players, but for me, two have stood out this year, Kilkenny’s T.J. Reid and Tipperary’s Seamus Callanan. Put it this way, if Kilkenny win on Sunday, T.J. Reid should get “Hurler of the Year”, and if Tipp win on Sunday, Seamus Callanan should get “Hurler of the Year”.
Seamus Callanan will take some watching on Sunday and it will be a huge task for newcomer Huw Lawlor who is likely to pick him up. Lawlor has been brilliant this year and he did a very good job on Aaron Gillane last time out. I just feel that Callanan is a completely different proposition to who he has marked before, given the form that he is in.
The Drom and Inch forward has scored an incredible seven goals in seven Championship games this year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he made that eight in eight this weekend. I think Callanan can cause the inexperienced Lawlor big problems and he is my tip for “Man Of The Match” @ 13/2.
What an absolutely epic goal by Seamus Callanan! 💥
— Pundit Arena (@PunditArena) July 28, 2019
In terms of marking the outstanding T.J. Reid, I think that Brendan Maher will get this unenviable task. Reid gets through an unbelievable amount of work and Brendan Maher will have to match that on Sunday if Tipperary are to come out on top.
Kilkenny’s full-forward Colin Fennelly has also been causing havoc in opposition defences. Back in the 2016 All-Ireland Final, James Barry held Fennelly scoreless in a dominant display. Three years on, Fennelly is now in the form of his life and Barry is not playing like he was in 2016. Considering all this, Liam Sheedy has a big decision to make.
Cracking goal from Colin Fennelly, but what about this for a puck out from Eoin Murphy 😳pic.twitter.com/oWfQl2Gh4p
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) July 27, 2019
Kilkenny do have other players that can hurt Tipp on Sunday, none more so than 20-year-old Adrian Mullen. Mullen has had an incredible year, already bagging the “Club Hurler of the Year” award and he is a shoo-in for “Young Hurler of the Year” also.
Tipperary are slight favourites for this contest and I would go along with that. I fancy them to win what should be a very close game. I just feel that Tipp have more quality forwards than Kilkenny at the moment, who can really hurt you with scores from distance. The likes of Callanan, the McGrath brothers, Jason Forde and John “Bubbles” O’Dwyer all fall into this category, and I think these sharp-shooters can lead the Premier County to a 28th All-Ireland Senior Hurling Title.
Verdict: Tipperary @ 5/6
Value Bet: HT/FT – Tipperary/Tipperary @ 15/8
RTÉ Man Of The Match Prediction: Seamus Callanan @ 13/2