Three things to look forward to ahead of Cork and Tipperary semi-final
Published 17/08/2014 | 12:50
Cork and Tipperary will battle it out in Croke Park today for the right to meet Kilkenny in next month's All-Ireland final and it promises to be an intriguing clash between the Munster rivals.
Meeting for a championship tie for the first time outside of Munster, provincial champions Cork will be hoping to go one better than last year and claim the Liam McCarthy cup. After a turbulent start to the season, the Premier County are just 70 minutes away from renewing their rivalry with the Cats.
Here are three things to look out for today.
Which sharp-shooters will make their mark?
The general consensus is that there will most likely be just a puck of the ball between the two teams in a high-scoring affair at Croke Park.
A quick glance at the respective forward lines, and indeed their form, would back up such theories and both teams can expect a healthy return from their attackers.
Seamus Callanan has been the scorer in chief for Eamon O'Shea's men, ably assisted by Patrick 'Bonner' Maher, while John O'Dwyer bagged 2-2 last time out against Galway.
The Rebels are now less reliant on Patrick Horgan, with Alan Cadogan, Conor Lehane and Seamus Harnedy in All Star form and both defences could be in for a difficult afternoon.
Can Ellis mark Bonner?
A leaky defence is ultimately what cost Cork an All-Ireland title last year, but this time round they look far more solid. Lorcan McLoughlin has dropped into the half-back line with Aidan Walsh manning the middle, Damien Cahalane is back after a year concentrating solely on the footballers, but most importantly the Rebels look rock solid at centre-back.
Chris Joyce looks more comfortable on the wing with Millstreet's Mark Ellis looking like a seasoned campaigner in the number six jersey. Maher however will be the sternest test of his credentials.
He is the fulcrum of the Tipp attack but if Ellis can keep tabs on the Lorrha-Dorrha forward, then it could be the launchpad to reach a second successive All-Ireland Final.
Kilkenny have reached their 13th final in 16 years, but are yet to scale the heights of previous years with new faces scattered throughout the team. Cork and Tipperary have the opportunity to showcase their All-Ireland credentials today with the Cats lying in wait.
The Rebels ended Kilkenny's 2013 campaign earlier than expected while should Tipp prevail, it will be the latest chapter in the most intense hurling rivalry over the past decade.
Whoever prevails will fancy their chances more than ever before of lowering Kilkenny colours on the biggest day in the hurling calendar.