Cats' demise greatly exaggerated - Ryan
Tipperary manager Michael Ryan said notions that Kilkenny won't be contenders this year are well wide of the mark and he expects a big response from Brian Cody's men this year.
The traditional Tipperary-Kilkenny rivalry has been to the forefront not just since Ryan took charge of the Premier County more than two years ago but during his spells as part of the management team of Liam Sheedy from 2007 and later when Eamonn O'Shea was in charge.
Ryan guided Tipp to their 2016 All-Ireland final win over Kilkenny in his first season and doesn't subscribe to the view that the Cats are in decline after a disappointing campaign last year.
He said that the hunger and big scores chalked up by Kilkenny in the Walsh Cup, albeit against weaker sides, has set the tone for a response this year from Cody and his men.
"The ball still has to go over the bar, the goals still have to go into the net," said Ryan about Kilkenny's January scoring form.
"Anyone who is writing up Kilkenny's demise will be proved wrong, they have done that several times in the past.
"I am certainly not a subscriber to that view. I think 2018 is going to be a brilliant championship. It's novel to start with, but it's going to be a brilliant championship.
"It will test us all, even on the sideline in terms of how we manage our affairs and how we get through it and use our players," said Ryan, whose third season in charge starts in Ennis on Sunday when they take on Clare.
"The standard of every game in Division 1A is relentless. We love that and the boys love that because every game is real and matters."