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Tipp fears the cats' claws as old rivalry is renewed

King Henry's bid to win an astonishing tenth All-Ireland senior hurling medal today has led to an unprecedented spending spree by gamblers.

Bookmaker Paddy Power is estimating a whopping €2.5m will be wagered on today's final between Kilkenny and Tipperary making it one of the most bet on hurling final in history.

All eyes will be on Henry Shefflin who will start on the bench for today's hugely anticipated match as tens of thousands of fans from the neighbouring counties began to arrive in Dublin.

This is the fourth time in six years that the two traditional powerhouses have met in the final.

And punters are taking on the bookies who have Kilkenny as slight favourites at 8/11.

In fact, 75pc of the cash so far has gone on the blue and gold at the bigger odds of 6/4.

The Cats have had the Liam McCarthy Cup 34 times but that didn't stop them painting the county, especially Kilkenny city, black and amber.

The sides last met in an All-Ireland final in 2011 when Kilkenny got revenge against Tipp for ending their drive for five the previous year.

Now Tipp want to stop manager Brian Cody and King Henry lifting their tenth Liam McCarthy.

This is a rivalry that is so intense that D'Unbelievables comedian and ardent Tipperary supporter Pat Shortt felt the need to drive his car over a Kilkenny Jersey earlier this week in a viral YouTube video.

With the rail strike called off, some travelled by train yesterday but there was indications that hurling fans were boycotting the train service as the 5pm train from Kilkenny had very few hurling fans on board.

Nevertheless, the usual watering holes in the capital were reporting brisk business from lunchtime.

But much of the pre-match chatter centred on Henry Shefflin and his bid to become the most decorated hurler in the game.

Tipp fans will be hoping to break his heart as one of the oldest rivalries in Irish sport is renewed today.

Kilkenny fan and student Jim Buggy travelled up from Castlecomer to watch the match with college friends from Tipp.

"It's a huge rivalry and a dream final but they are the one team I don't want us to lose to," said Jim.

"I think we will have too much for them but they ended the five in a row so we'll have to be careful," he added.

Sunday Independent