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Who can lick Cody's Cats?

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Kilkenny captain Eoin Larkin lifts the Liam MacCarthy Cup. Picture: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

Kilkenny captain Eoin Larkin lifts the Liam MacCarthy Cup. Picture: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

Kilkenny captain Eoin Larkin lifts the Liam MacCarthy Cup. Picture: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

WE'VE already had several of the 'starters' in Leinster; now for the main course. This Sunday will see an abundance of ambitious young guns taking the field for Clare and Waterford in Thurles. They will harbour aspirations of Munster hurling glory, but can they dare to dream of September?

In a word, unlikely.

Since 1999, the All-Ireland SHC title has been a closed shop accessible only to the traditional Big Three. Since Cork's last hurrah in 2005, it has been a virtual personal fiefdom of the Almighty One.

 

RULE

Only Tipperary have broken Kilkenny's rule – three years ago – and now there's a growing feeling afoot that a Premier outfit dismembered by carnivorous Cats and their own surreal tactics last August are the best placed pretender to challenge Brian Cody's latest three-in-a-row quest.

If Galway can rediscover the aggression and appetite and bewildering forward movement of last summer, then that challenger could well be bedecked in maroon, not blue and gold. That's presuming they don't implode as previous Galway incarnations have done in the summer after threatening All-Ireland deliverance.

Last year's Liam MacCarthy race was shaped by Galway's Leinster final tour de force. But the shellshocked holders recovered, incrementally, to avenge that defeat after a pulsating All-Ireland final deadlock and historic replay.

They have plenty of injury niggles heading for Tullamore on Sunday week, but an Offaly ambush would beggar belief. Nor can we see Anthony Daly's Dublin (let alone Wexford) suddenly discovering the elusive secret after four summers of trying and failing to topple their Cody nemesis, in which case the stage would surely be set for another Kilkenny/Galway Leinster final.

But right now, especially if Henry Shefflin is back for the All-Ireland series, you can't look beyond the voracious Black-and-Amber.


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