Jackie Tyrrell insists Kilkenny's defence gives them the edge over Tipperary for Liam McCarthy glory
Jackie Tyrrell reckons that Kilkenny’s settled defence holds the key to his former county’s chances of beating Tipperary in this weekend’s All-Ireland final.
And the nine-time champion thinks there are too many selection question marks for Liam Sheedy as the Tipp boss ponders his defensive calls as he prepares to renew his side-line rivalry with Brian Cody.
"Kilkenny are slightly in a better position if you look at the two sets of backs," says Tyrrell.
"Kilkenny are very settled, they know their roles. You won’t see much change as regards their shape.
"Huw Lawlor will man the square, Padraig Walsh will mark the six channel, sometimes dropping deeper, at other times stepping out a little.
"Conor Fogarty and Paddy Deegan will be on the flanks, they’ll leave the two inside, probably Lawlor and Paul Murphy, leaving Joey Holden on Bubbles presuming he goes out.
"They had issues against Cork earlier on but eradicated them pretty quickly, perhaps 12 or 13 minutes in when Padraig Walsh goes back on Alan Cadogan, they started to settle down. Since then they have been very compact.
"However, looking at the Tipperary side of things, you couldn’t be really confident of what six backs they are going to start with this weekend. Who will be full-back? “I’d roll the dice with James Barry again. But it could be Barry Heffernan. Ronan Maher probably played there the most the last weekend.
"Then if TJ Reid goes to centre-forward what do they do? Paraig Maher is a bit loose. Brendan Maher has been the man-marker for most of the year.
"I just think there are a lot of uncertainties with their back-line. I still think they’ve played very well but the last day Wexford conceded an awful lot.
"It’s going to be won by the two sets for forwards and the two marquee guys in Seamus Callanan and TJ Reid, but also in how the two sets of backs can handle each set of forwards.
"That’s where the game will be won and lost.
"Midfield will probably see parity just given the amount of bodies you’ll see in there. Conor Browne will pick up Noel McGrath to try to curb his influence.
"I just don’t seen anyone really getting on top there, I’m sure someone will but even if one of the midfields get on top it won’t necessarily change the course of the game.
"I see it being settled by the sets of backs."
Jackie Tyrrell has collaborated with Littlewoods Ireland to design a bespoke O’Neills jersey ahead of the 2019 All-Ireland Hurling Final. The jersey is to celebrate the launch of a range of official GAA county jerseys available on LittlewoodsIreland.ie in partnership with the GAA and O’Neills.