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Eamonn Sweeney: Hurling overlords create age of iron

It was hard for the heart not to sink as Kilkenny and Tipperary put Galway and Dublin to the sword last week to ensure that the 2013 National League final, like the 2009, 2010 and 2011 All-Ireland finals and the 2009 National League final would involve two counties whose rivalry is beginning to get a bit tedious.

I know it's only the league but the semi-finals bode ill for the championship to come.

When the two teams met for the third time in a row in the final of the 2011 championship this was the first time this had ever happened in either hurling or football. Galway broke into the cartel last year, but the days when at least half a dozen teams started the season as contenders seem distant.

In the years from 1996 to 2001 six different counties lifted the Liam MacCarthy Cup while two others, Galway and Limerick, lost finals by narrow margins. It was a glorious era, a golden age in the game of hurling. But we're now firmly in an age of iron. For all Kilkenny's brilliance, the other counties should be making more of a fist of stopping them and not leaving all the work to Tipperary.

Instead the likes of Limerick, Wexford and Offaly whine about being made to play in Division 2 rather than face up to the fact that they're stuck there because they can't win enough games.

It's a sorry state of affairs. There have been great teams in the past but they haven't ridden roughshod over the opposition like this.

If we get a fourth Kilkenny-Tipperary final in five years, the hurling championship will be revealed as a failure in terms of competition. Is everyone OK with that?

Irish Independent