Liam Fennelly rates the players ahead of the All-Ireland hurling final between Kilkenny and Tipperary.
EOIN MURPHY 8
AGE: 29 CLUB: Glenmore
HEIGHT: 5ft 11 WEIGHT: 12st 10lbs
Exceptional keeper whose skills will be put to the ultimate test today. Has the ability to defy Tipp’s goalscoring aces.
PAUL MURPHY 7
AGE: 30 CLUB: Danesfort
HEIGHT: 5ft 11 WEIGHT: 14st 7lbs
He has retained his confidence and has completely changed his style to suit Kilkenny’s new system of play.
HUW LAWLOR 7
AGE: 23 CLUB: O’Loughlin Gaels
HEIGHT: 6ft 0 WEIGHT: 12st 6lbs
Learning all the time. Needs to be strong and decisive today as he will face an array of players all with a gifted touch.
JOEY HOLDEN 7
AGE: 29 CLUB: Ballyhale Shamrocks
HEIGHT: 6ft 2 WEIGHT: 12st 10lbs
Chief organiser in defence. A tremendous appetite for work, he epitomises Kilkenny’s willingness to compete.
CONOR FOGARTY 7
AGE: 29 CLUB: Erin’s Own
HEIGHT: 5ft 11 WEIGHT: 12st 7lbs
A team player who defends well within the defensive unit and uses possession really intelligently.
PADRAIG WALSH 8
AGE: 27 CLUB: Tullaroan
HEIGHT: 5ft 11 WEIGHT: 12st 7lbs
Has the hands to dictate play in this vital position. Loves to break forward and add to the scoreboard and has been in top form.
PADDY DEEGAN 7
AGE: 24 CLUB: O’Loughlin Gaels
HEIGHT: 6ft 0 WEIGHT: 13st 8lbs
A tigerish defender who controls his sector and uses possession to the best advantage of his forwards.
CONOR BROWNE 7
AGE: 23 CLUB: James Stephens
HEIGHT: 6ft 0 WEIGHT: 13st 0lbs
In the team because of his strength and athleticism. Key player today who will die with his boots on.
CILLIAN BUCKLEY 7
AGE: 27 CLUB: Dicksboro
HEIGHT: 6ft 0 WEIGHT: 13st 1lbs
His big-day match experience resulted him getting the nod ahead of Richie Leahy. This will be crucial is this vital sector.
JOHN DONNELLY 7
AGE: 21 CLUB: Thomastown
HEIGHT: 6ft 0 WEIGHT: 13st 12lbs
Very good wrists, he will always take the right option. Very strong under the puck-out, he has nailed down a first team place
TJ REID 9
AGE: 31 CLUB: Ballyhale Shamrocks
HEIGHT: 6ft 2 WEIGHT: 13st 10bs
Wonderful performer and team leader, he possesses all the attributes to be recognised as one of the greatest ever players.
WALTER WALSH 7
AGE: 28 CLUB: Tullogher Rosbercon
HEIGHT: 6ft 5 WEIGHT: 15st 6bs
Can be inspirational, he has added new facets to his game. His leadership will be required today if Kilkenny are to win.
ADRIAN MULLEN 7
AGE: 20 CLUB: Ballyhale Shamrocks
HEIGHT: 6ft 1 WEIGHT: 13st 0lbs
Excellent hurling brain for such a young player. His work rate and ability to turn over possession are major assets.
COLIN FENNELLY 8
AGE: 29 CLUB: Ballyhale Shamrocks
HEIGHT: 6ft 2 WEIGHT: 13st 2lbs
A constant threat at full-forward. He is now managing his game and energy to get the most out of himself.
RICHIE HOGAN 7
AGE: 31 CLUB: Danesfort
HEIGHT: 5ft 7 WEIGHT: 12st 7lbs
Capable of producing flashes of brilliance. Now that Kilkenny have reached the final he can relax and play to his potential.
BRIAN CODY 9
AGE: 65 CLUB: James Stephens
His CV speaks for itself – he has done it all. His ability to get the very best out of average players is the hallmark of his remarkable managerial career.
Brian Hogan 7
AGE: 23 CLUB: Lorrha
HEIGHT: 6ft 5 WEIGHT: 15st 2lbs
Performs all his duties in a confident manner without needing to look spectacular. Excellent puck-outs.
Cathal Barrett 7
AGE: 26 CLUB: Holycross Ballycahill
HEIGHT: 5ft 11 WEIGHT: 12st 9bs
A man-marking corner-back who is inspirational in his approach and his return to the fold has been a huge bonus for Tipp.
Barry Heffernan 7
AGE: 24 CLUB: Nenagh Eire Og
HEIGHT: 6ft 4 WEIGHT: 13st 12lbs
Strong and athletic his skill in possession is vital to the Tipp game plan. It allows them to take short puck-outs.
Ronan Maher 8
AGE: 23 CLUB: Thurles Sarsfields
HEIGHT: 6ft 0 WEIGHT: 13st 4lbs
Brilliant ball-player with an attacking flair. The aerial battle today is worth the admission price alone and he will play a big part in it.
Brendan Maher 7
AGE: 30 CLUB: Borris-Ileigh
HEIGHT: 6ft 0 WEIGHT: 12st 13bs
A man for all seasons he could be given the job of marking Kilkenny ace TJ Reid and he is well capable of doing the job.
Padraic Maher 8
AGE: 30 CLUB: Thurles Sarsfields
HEIGHT: 6ft 2 WEIGHT: 14st 13lbs
He always in the thick of the action and his drives out of defence are inspirational. A true leader for the Premier county
Seamus Kennedy 7
AGE: 26 CLUB: St Mary’s
HEIGHT: 6ft 2 WEIGHT: 13st 5lbs
Gets the nod for his strength and aerial power. His defensive versatility is also a great asset for Tipperary.
Noel McGrath 8
AGE: 28 CLUB: Loughmore Castleiney
HEIGHT: 6ft 0 WEIGHT: 13st 6lbs
Has found a new lease of life. He is a wonderful stick man who has the ability to control the game and score spectacular points
Michael Breen 7
AGE: 25 CLUB: Ballina
HEIGHT: 6ft 2 WEIGHT: 14st 3lbs
Full of energy and running, if the games goes his way he could torment Kilkenny. Can be inconsistent at times.
Dan McCormack 7
AGE: 26 CLUB: Borris-Ileigh
HEIGHT: 6ft 0 WEIGHT:13st 6lbs
A defensive wing-forward, his physical presence and ability to drift into midfield makes space for the Tipp shooters.
John O’Dwyer 7
AGE: 27 CLUB: Killenaule
HEIGHT: 5ft 11 WEIGHT: 14st 2lbs
Not your typical centre-forward – however his array of skills means he is a constant threat and drifts into scoring positions.
Niall O’Meara 7
AGE: 26 CLUB: Kilruane MacDonaghs
HEIGHT: 5ft 11 WEIGHT: 13st 6lbs
His style and running power makes him difficult to contain. He has given the Tipp attack a different dimension
Jason Forde 7
AGE: 25 CLUB: Silvermines
HEIGHT: 6ft 2 WEIGHT:14st 5lbs
Another forward who has the skill to light up Croke Park. He is constantly ghosting into scoring positions.
Seamus Callanan 8
AGE: 30 CLUB: Drom & Inch
HEIGHT: 6ft 3 WEIGHT: 14st 4lbs
Has adopted his game since losing some pace. More effective as he drifts outfield to creates scores – but still scores himself.
John McGrath 7
AGE: 25 CLUB: Loughmore Castleiney
HEIGHT: 6ft 1 WEIGHT: 13st 6lbs
Has so much to offer. The way he creates space is a gift. Has an eye for a goal and needs to be contained for 70 plus minutes.
Liam Sheedy 9
AGE: 49 CLUB: Portroe
Having coached Tipp to halt Kilkenny’s drive for five in 2010 he knows what it takes to win the title. Has transformed Tipp since he took over last year.
On the Saturday before the start of the hurling campaign last May, I predicted in our championship supplement that Tipperary would win the All-Ireland title on the basis that there was a lot more to them than they showed last year.
The Throw In
The battle between Kilkenny's TJ Reid and Tipperary's Seamus Callanan is the box-office element for most commentators, but Laois manager and Kilkenny legend Eddie Brennan believes that the All-Ireland final will be decided by the respective benches where the likes of Richie Leahy or Jake Morris lie in wait.