Friday 20 September 2019

All-Ireland hurling final jury: Who'll come out on top in Sunday's clash of the giants?

Brendan Maher lifts the Liam MacCarthy Cup in 2016. Photo: Sportsfile
Brendan Maher lifts the Liam MacCarthy Cup in 2016. Photo: Sportsfile

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

As the nation looks forward to Brian Cody and Liam Sheedy locking horns at Croke Park again, we've asked our GAA jury for their verdict on Sunday's All-Ireland hurling final.

Martin Breheny

1. What is Kilkenny’s biggest strength and biggest weakness?

Strength: A general solidity, based on hard work, backed up by the enormous self-belief that so much success gives new players when they get the county call.

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Weakness: Galway (3-20) and Cork (3-18) showed that their defensive locks can be unpicked by pace.

2. What is Tipperary’s biggest strength and biggest weakness?

Strength: There’s enormous scoring power and Kilkenny will remember how Séamus Callanan, John O’Dwyer and John McGrath scored 2-21 against them in the 2016 final.

Weakness: The defence was easily dismantled by Limerick and Wexford.

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Murphy’s Law: Eoin Murphy in action during Kilkenny’s semifinal victory over Limerick. Photo: Sportsfile

3. Other than captain, TJ Reid, who are Kilkenny’s three key men?

Eoin Murphy: The best goalkeeper in the game right now.

Huw Lawlor: How will he cope with the Callanan test?

Walter Walsh: He needs a really big game.

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4. Other than captain, Seamus Callanan who are Tipperary’s three key men?

Brian Hogan: The goalkeeper faces a big test in his first All-Ireland final.

Pádraic Maher: When he plays well Tipperary usually play well.

John McGrath: He will feel he owes his colleagues after leaving them short-handed when sent off in the semi-final.

5. Sum up the game and predict the final score

Their last three All-Ireland final meetings (2016, 2014 draw and replay) produced an average scoreline of Tipperary 2-23 Kilkenny 2-21. It suggests another shoot-out.

Tipperary 2-21, Kilkenny 1-22

Vincent Hogan

1. What is Kilkenny’s biggest strength and biggest weakness?

Strength: A willingness to graft and hurt that runs deeper than with any other team out there. Also a modern-day great to build their team around in TJ Reid.

Weakness: They can be over-run at midfield.

2. What is Tipperary’s biggest strength and biggest weakness?

Strength: A breadth of scoring power that, on the good days, can look uncontainable.

Weakness: There’s no great clarity to their best full-back line as Liam Sheedy runs with a smart horses-for-courses policy.

3. Other than captain, TJ Reid, who are Kilkenny’s three key men?

Pádraig Walsh: A force of nature but likely to be protecting the ‘D’ here.

Walter Walsh: If fit, a massive a puck-out target.

Colin Fennelly: Their primary goal threat.

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Paudie Maher celebrates in Croke Park after Tipperary’s victory over Kilkenny. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

4. Other than captain, Seamus Callanan who are Tipperary’s three key men?

Paudie Maher: A leader to his fingertips and heartbeat of this team.

Ronan Maher: Stepping forward as a real warrior in the mould of his brother.

Noel McGrath: The real creative force whose vision unlocks that huge attacking potential.

5. Sum up the game and predict the final score

As always with Kilkenny-Tipperary, it promises to be hugely physical and, almost certainly, a tight affair.  But Tipp found something within themselves the last day. Sheedy’s men to ease away in the final quarter.

Tipperary 2-19, Kilkenny 1-18

Colm Keys

1. What is Kilkenny’s biggest strength and biggest weakness?

Strength: The collective work-rate that they were able to generate to take down Limerick.

Weakness: The concern for Kilkenny must be their ability to tie down their opponents.

2. What is Tipperary’s biggest strength and biggest weakness?

Strength: Tipp’s bench brings real energy and their capacity to get goals really tasks Kilkenny to come up with something different around Callanan.

Weakness: How will they respond if Kilkenny reach the same physical pitch that they got to against Limerick?

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Pádraig Walsh of Kilkenny is tackled by Cathal Dunbar during the Leinster SHC match last night. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach

3. Other than captain, TJ Reid, who are Kilkenny’s three key men?

Eoin Murphy: One of the best goalkeepers of the modern era.

Pádraig Walsh: His ball-winning and game-reading underpins their half-backs

Colin Fennelly: His power and pace will ask the most searching questions of Tipp.

4. Other than captain, Seamus Callanan who are Tipperary’s three key men?

Ronan Maher: Was dominant against Wexford and may be tailored for TJ Reid.

Noel McGrath: His move to midfield has given him an even stronger playmaking hand.

Jason Forde: The type of player that could well soar on a day like Sunday.

5. Sum up the game and predict the final score

Tight, tense, thrilling, as always between these great rivals. Ultimately, Tipp’s ability to pick holes in the Kilkenny defence might just be greater than Kilkenny’s at the other end.

Tipperary 2-20, Kilkenny 1-20

Michael Verney

1. What is Kilkenny’s biggest strength and biggest weakness?

Strength: Their inability to throw in the towel and turn a game into a physical battle which few can match.

Weakness: A handful of rookies playing in their first All-Ireland final, how will they react on the game’s biggest stage?

2. What is Tipperary’s biggest strength and biggest weakness?

Strength: If afforded space, their full-forward line can totally obliterate any defence.

Weakness: Do they have enough ball-winners in the half-forward line to win possession among a sea of Kilkenny bodies?

3. Other than captain, TJ Reid, who are Kilkenny’s three key men?

Paul Murphy: Will need to be at his best to repel Tipp’s full-forward line.

Conor Browne: If he can curtail the influence of Noel McGrath, Tipp will lose a play-making weapon.

John Donnelly: Has put in huge shifts at wing-forward, another required now.

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Brian Hogan of Tipperary

4. Other than captain, Seamus Callanan who are Tipperary’s three key men?

Brian Hogan: In first final, his nerve under intense pressure will be crucial.

Ronan Maher: Outstanding season thus far as he continues to drive forward from defence.

Niall O’Meara: Minus ‘Bonner’ Maher, Tipp need a half-forward to step up.

5. Sum up the game and predict the final score

Kilkenny will flood the middle third with bodies while also providing their full-back line with the necessary cover. Tipp’s attack will get some joy but the Cats can edge another tight affair.

Kilkenny 2-19, Tipperary 1-20

Cyril Farrell

1. What is Kilkenny’s biggest strength and biggest weakness?

Strength: Their never-say-die attitude is well-documented, but that wouldn’t count for much if all the other component parts weren’t in place.

Weakness: They are not over-endowed with pace in defence so they like to turn games into arm wrestles.

2. What is Tipperary’s biggest strength and biggest weakness?

Strength: They hurl with great pace when they’re playing well and there’s a real precision to it as well.

Weakness: They usually score heavily, which is a big plus, but they can concede a lot too. Wexford took them for 3-20, even by using just five forwards.

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Paddy Deegan in action for Kilkenny in the Allianz League earlier this year. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

3. Other than captain, TJ Reid, who are Kilkenny’s three key men?

Pádraig Walsh: Tipp will try keep him busy so the can’t take on extra duties.

Paddy Deegan: A typical Brian Cody protégé.

Colin Fennelly: The man they back to come up with important goals such as against Cork and Limerick.

4. Other than captain, Seamus Callanan who are Tipperary’s three key men?

Ronan Maher: The ultimate all-rounder, he’s a real leader now.

Noel McGrath: Gets himself on the ball so often and so easily.

Pádraic Maher: Strong, dependable, honest, consistent. A top anchor man for the past decade.

5. Sum up the game and predict the final score

It will be a traditional final in the sense that neither are into elaborate systems and structures. Tipperary tend to hurl in high-tempo bursts whereas Kilkenny bring a more even pace to their game.

Tipperary 2-25, Kilkenny 2-21

Sinead Kissane

1. What is Kilkenny’s biggest strength and biggest weakness?

Strength: Work-rate. Their harrying, hooking, blocking and hunting against Limerick was done at such a manic rinse-repeat rate it was exhausting to watch.

Weakness: Their biggest strength can become their greatest weakness if that work-rate drops.

2. What is Tipperary’s biggest strength and biggest weakness?

Strength: Ever hear of Tipp thickness? It’s that crankiness Tipp can show when decisions go against them and out of pure stubbornness they refuse to yield.

Weakness: Again, a weakness comes from their strength – a la the Munster final when they lost their way.

3. Other than captain, TJ Reid, who are Kilkenny’s three key men?

Padraig Walsh: He is as effective going forward as he is when he stays back.

Colin Fennelly: He has it all – power, strength, speed.

Adrian Mullen: He must be leading the Young Hurler of the Year contenders. A serious prospect.

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Tipperary duo Ronan Maher and Padraic Maher challenge for a high ball with Conor McDonald. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

4. Other than captain, Seamus Callanan who are Tipperary’s three key men?

The three Mahers: Brendan and the pair of brothers Ronan and Pádraic who make up the Tipp half-back line. There are other players like the McGraths and John O’Dwyer but how this line perform against Kilkenny will be a tell-tale sign of how the game is going for Tipp.

5. Sum up the game and predict the final score

Limerick looked caught out by Kilkenny’s ferociousness so that’s that cover blown for the Cats. Since it’s Kilkenny involved maybe the goal-rush will return. Tipp seem to be the more ready-made team and may even have greater tactical nous.

Tipperary 2-25, Kilkenny 2-20

Donnchadh Boyle

1. What is Kilkenny’s biggest strength and biggest weakness?

Strength: Their desire and power of the collective. In their last two games they have relished their underdog status.

Weakness: There are not many, but TJ Reid accounts for 24 per cent of their scores from play and that shows how much they rely on him.

2. What is Tipperary’s biggest strength and biggest weakness?

Strength: Their attack has a fabulous array of talent in their forwards. John McGrath, Seamus Callanan and John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer are gifted hurlers.

Weakness: Sheedy admitted earlier this year the squad’s skill-set isn’t always accompanied by the required work-rate.

3. Other than captain, TJ Reid, who are Kilkenny’s three key men?

Eoin Murphy: Will need to be at his imperious best against this Tipperary attack.

Huw Lawlor: Will likely track Callanan and that duel will have a huge say

Colin Fennelly: His power will be an important asset.  

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The improvement in the form of John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer’s has coincided with Liam Sheedy’s return to the Tipperary helm. Photo: INPHO

4. Other than captain, Seamus Callanan who are Tipperary’s three key men?

Noel McGrath: Has been pulling the strings from midfield and will need to keep the Tipp forwards in a good supply.

Paudie Maher: His physicality will be key in the middle:

John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer: On his best days, he can bend a game to his will.

5. Sum up the game and predict the final score

Nip and tuck all the way through with Tipperary picking off the vital scores to give Liam Sheedy a second All-Ireland win as manager.

Tipperary 2-20, Kilkenny 2-17

John Mullane

1. What is Kilkenny’s biggest strength and biggest weakness?

Strength: Their ability to out-work teams, win the dirty ball and keep going to the end, something Tipp must match to prevail.

Weakness: There have been question marks over their full-back line. If they get on top there, they will be hard-beaten.

2. What is Tipperary’s biggest strength and biggest weakness?

Strength: Their ability to sense a goal-scoring opportunity and go for the jugular while clocking up big scoring averages.

Weakness: Lapses in games without a score and failure to win primary possession in their half-forward line.

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Kilkenny's Adrian Mullen. Photo: Sportsfile

3. Other than captain, TJ Reid, who are Kilkenny’s three key men?

Huw Lawlor: If he can contain Seamus Callanan, that would be a major boost.

Pádraig Walsh: Will be key in the half-back line as he drives them forward.

Adrian Mullen: He could be the match-winner up front.

4. Other than captain, Seamus Callanan who are Tipperary’s three key men?

Brendan Maher: Will have a big say, especially if earmarked for TJ Reid.

Noel McGrath: If he can follow up on his performances to date he will have a big say as their link player.

Brian Hogan: His puck-outs will be key if Kilkenny flood the middle third.

5. Sum up the game and predict the final score

If Tipp can find space up front, they can prevail in a shoot-out. If they don’t and it becomes a dogfight, Kilkenny will prevail but Eamon O’Shea will come with a plan to create space up front and Tipp’s forwards can dazzle.

Tipperary 2-22, Kilkenny 2-20

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