Confident Cats Have It In The Bag
Kilkenny v Tipperary
Stop gawking at those hacked celebrity photos, turn off the soccer post-match call-ins and settle in for a Saturday night treat.
Kilkenny and Tipp served up arguably the best final of all time three weeks ago and we get to enjoy their battling again this weekend.
The All-Ireland hurling final has nothing to do without last week’s football final, surely? No, they don’t directly, but two rules of sport were very evident in Kerry’s win…tradition matters and it’s difficult to put two flawless performances back-to-back.
Tradition brings belief, and just as Kerry never doubted their ability to upset the odds, Kilkenny won’t be too perturbed by the fact they were out-hurled for much of the original fixture. Think back to their replay against Galway in 2012.
Putting top class performances back-to-back is hard done too. Donegal were favourites, mainly by virtue of their stunning performance against Dublin in the semi-final, but couldn’t get to that level again last weekend. Perhaps the constant soft chat about how that level of performance would suffice to lift Sam softened Donegal’s edge? Tipp have to guard against such chat.
Teams aren’t named yet, but the only headache for Eamon O’Shea is whether to bring Michael Cahill in, but he’s likely to start the same side as the drawn game. Kilkenny’s ‘A’ team at training has reportedly featured Kieran Joyce at centre-back instead of Brian Hogan, with Padraig Walsh another possible change in place of Joey Holden. There are so many possible switches, and then the tasty question, will the King start?
The Tipp pairing of McGrath and Woodlock are a formidable pairingbut it’ll be interesting to see if Cody makes the switch that reaped rewards the last day with Michael Fennelly to midfield and Richie Hogan to 11. If Cillian Buckley can up his game, that switch from the get-go can swing the tide here that’ll help Kilkenny’s cause.
Form and Head-to-Head
Tipp have only won one of their last ten league or championship clashes with Kilkenny which highlights the extent of the Cats’ dominance recently.
Their 3-22 to 1-28 drawn first game was absolutely mind-blowing, but Tipp still couldn’t get over the line. The stat that there was no wide for the last half-hour until hawkeye was called upon to show that Bubbles Dwyer had missed by the width of the side-view of Kate Moss’ waist is stunning. For hawk-wye to be used again on Saturday is 8/11.
Sports psychologist and former Armagh All-Irealnd winner, Enda McNulty, tweeted through the second half that all the Tipp team were ‘in-flow’. Their forward movement, allied to their aggressive back play and dominant midfield, was super to watch.
Can the 11/10 outsiders replicate that display and keep the Kilkenny goal count down?
Kilkenny were out-hurled for much of the drawn game, yet Tipp still needed the closing three points to tie it up. Bubbles’ free was so, so close. Where does that leave the advantage? Do Tipp have the momentum of their strong finish to bring in to the game, or can Kilkenny up it a level as they tend to do in finals. Remember the league final where Kilkenny pulled that bit extra out in extra-time?
Tipp will have to be as good again to beat Kilkenny. Brian Hogan was poor in round one and the introduction of Kieran Joyce can help in that regard. It’s hard to imagine that the Tipp forward division can hit 29 scores again, though having said that, if they took their goal chances they’d have Liam now.
Tipp will try to shut out the Kilkenny goals but that’s been a mark of Kilkenny…they’ll bury you with goals when they look stressed.
Kilkenny can hit goals again on Saturday, and while Bonner Maher rewarded our 12/1 first goal tip on the first day out, we’re going with Kilkenny to strike first here. Richie Power at 15/2 and Colin Fennelly at 8/1 are the likely boys to raise the first green flag.
With Kilkenny’s pedigree in replays comes a confidence. That tradition is invaluable, but they also have the personnel to make it count.
Against Galway in 2012 they fell behind to two Galway goals yet retained their composure to lead at half-time. Cody’s men are 23/10 to lead at half-time and full-time here.
On the man-of-the match front, we’ll plump for the genius that is Richie Hogan to take up where he left off the last day. At 7/1 he’s a good price, especially if you fancy the Cats. The draw at 9/1 is tasty seen as the last two games between these two this year has ended in stalemate, but if you think a tight game is on the cards take the 11/2 about the match being a draw at half-time or full-time at 11/2.
We’re taking the Cats to do what Kilkenny do best: win a replayed final.
Kilkenny to win at evens
Kilkenny half-time/full-time @ 23/10
Richie Power at 15/2 First Goalscorer
Richie Hogan @ 7/1 for Man Of The Match