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Hoban admits young Cats 'up against it' in final clash with Limerick

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Kilkenny manager Pat Hoban has no issue with his side going into mthe All-Ireland minor hurling final as underdogs. Photo: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

Kilkenny manager Pat Hoban has no issue with his side going into mthe All-Ireland minor hurling final as underdogs. Photo: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

Kilkenny manager Pat Hoban has no issue with his side going into mthe All-Ireland minor hurling final as underdogs. Photo: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

There's been plenty of adversity along the way for Kilkenny ahead of tomorrow's All-Ireland minor final appearance.

Be it the hammering in their own back-yard on their first day out or any of the host of serious injuries they have picked up a various stages this year, it's been far from straightforward for Pat Hoban's young Cats.

Dublin came to Nowlan Park last April and the Cats scored just three points in 60 horrible minutes. There were mitigating circumstances and the team has changed much since but it still didn't go down well in Kilkenny.

"It's about winning," manager Pat Hoban (right) said. "It's about results, it's about performing and on that day we definitely didn't do either of those. I don't mind taking criticism.

"It was probably a bit harsh on the players. A lot of those guys had come off the colleges scene, some of them had won, some of them had lost. You had all that mix going into that game as well but Dublin were deserved winners."

Having had two teams in the All-Ireland colleges final, this year's Kilkenny minors were expected to be strong. That game was played just two weeks before Dublin came to Nowlan Park and they were very flat.

Time, however, has been a healer. And when they got another shot at Dublin in the Leinster final, they were a different side and they haven't looked back since.

"Obviously we weren't lacking in motivation," Hoban remembers.

A win over reigning All-Ireland champions Waterford in the semi-final was another step down the line but the hits have kept coming.

Hoban reckons they have shipped nine serious injuries and just this week, sub 'keeper Jason Barcoe suffered a cruciate injury at training with no one near him. It left Hoban scrambling for cover with no back-up goalie just days before an All-Ireland final against a fancied Limerick side.

Hoban has no issue with his side going in as underdogs, having witnessed Limerick's power first hand early in the year.

"They were very strong in their Munster campaign and they blew Galway away. They have a very strong team full stop," he said.

"We've been watching them. We played in a challenge game earlier in the year but it was too early to have any real bearing on this match. They beat us convincingly on that day, that was back in February.

"They've a huge amount of work done, they're a well coached side. They're a big, physical team and well able to score, so we're up against it."

Irish Independent