Tipp Can Topple The Cats

All-Ireland finals are always occasions to look forward to, but this one is particularly mouth-watering. There are so many sub-plots it makes the TV series Revenge look straightforward.

Can Cody get the Cats back in the winners’ enclosure or will O’Shea’s men produce the goods as they did when scuppering Kilkenny’s five-in-a-row in 2010.

Will Shefflin contribute to a satisfying Kilkenny victory or will Lar erase the memories of his farcical dancing with Tommy Walsh? There is so much redemption on offer it could be a religious experience.

Obviously, when both sides are contesting the final their form has been good. Kilkenny showed their battling qualities in their arm wrestle with Limerick in their semi-final. Conditions that day made striking tough, and when the game was there to be won, it was the Cats that won the scrap.

Tipp’s 2-18 to 1-11 destruction of last year’s runners-up Cork was phenomenal. Tipp were tops in all aspects of the game.

The sides have met twice this year with Kilkenny winning through both times. Kilkenny won a goal-fest in Nowlan Park in February (5-20 to 5-16). Kilkenny also won through in the league final in Thurles by a point after extra-time in a thriller by 2-25 to 1-27.

Key match-ups
This game is full of battles that will provide fascinating sub-plots. Will Brian Hogan be able to put a halt to Bonner’s gallop? On the other side, will Brendan Maher pick up the powerhouse Michael Fennelly? While the battle of the two inside lines should ultimately decide Liam’s destination, no one battle is more intriguing, or likely to be more key, than that between Seamus Callanan and JJ Delaney.

Callanan is in blistering form, but JJ has the Indian sign over him. Will the wily JJ be able to subdue the Drom & Inch man who has hit 7-38 in five games? Whoever wins this key battle will have contributed massively to their sides’ chances.

Kilkenny are 4/5 to win in 70 minutes and see Cody’s fists go over his head for the … time in his 16 year reign. They face Tipp (13/10), a side they beat by 18 points in the 2012 semi-final.

Redemption is available for both squads. Last year saw Kilkenny and Tipp fail to make the semi-final stages. Kilkenny and Cody will b e hungry to re-establish their position at the top of the hurling pile while Tipp will seek to put questions over their big match credentials to bed on the biggest day of all.

In 2010, under Liam Sheedy, they more than matched Kilkenny’s physicality, and, after that, their hurling won through. The same applies on Sunday: if Tipp can match Kilkenny’s ravenous hunger and drive, they have the forwards to outscore the Cats.

The forecast good weather will suit the Tipp men, and at the heart of their defence both Hogan and JJ could struggle on Bonner and Callanan respectively. If those two Tipp boys turn up then Bubbles Dwyer’s steady contribution along with a chip in from McGrath and Lar could set a tally too high for Kilkenny to reach.

The two Richies- Hogan and Power, are potential game winners for Cody’s charges.

Michael Fennelly is another Kilkenny man that can sway things Kilkenny’s way with his ball-winning and forceful running. At 16/1 he’s a price for first goal.

The first goal-scorer markets offer tasty prices with Seamus Callanan and Richie Power to the fore at 11/2 and 15/2 respectively. While Bonner doesn’t always provide the stickwork to finish the chances his straight running creates, a small bet at 12/1 on him won’t break the bank.

In a tight game to call, we’re going to side with Tipp to produce at 13/10 in a game of goals.

The good weather that is forecast should be in Tipp’s favour, and if, similar to 2010, they can match the Kilkenny physicality they have the forward power to win this by 3-4 points.