Former Tipperary hurler Eoin Kelly believes the Leinster final replay will be more of an “occasion” because of the change of venue from Croke Park to Semple Stadium.
A late TJ Reid point earned Kilkenny a draw against Galway in the Leinster final last Sunday. The replay however, was fixed for the Thurles venue as Croke Park is booked with a Michael Buble concert on Saturday evening and the All Ireland winning captain told Paddy Power that he believes the move will be positive for the game.
“I don’t see Croke Park as being the ideal venue for a Leinster final either. You’ll see a change of view after Sunday’s Leinster final because it will be on in Thurles, it’ll be an opener game, you’ll get more scores there and it will feel like more of an occasion. But, are Kilkenny going to be beaten by Galway three times in the championship as it rolls on? It’s hard to do that. I still think Galway and Kilkenny are going to end up in an All-Ireland semi-final.”
The decision to move the match to the Munster venue has caused much controversy this weekend as Waterford were refused the opportunity to play their home games in Nowlan Park because it is in Leinster and the Mullinahone man believes that the rule should be changed as a result of this fixture.
“I have no problem with It whatsoever. You can stroll along the street from the town up to your game and there’s easy access in and out. I think it’s great that the Leinster final replay is on there on Sunday. And if Waterford want to play in Nowlan Park next year I think it should be an option.”
Last weekend also saw the climax of a thrilling Munster Championship as Cork were crowned champions for the 54th time. Kelly admits that there is still a gap in the quality between the two provincial champions.
“It was amazing to watch the Munster final and then to flick across and watch the Leinster final – they were worlds apart. There was intensity in the Munster final but it was free flowing and there was more skill on display. Whereas with Kilkenny and Galway it was more of a physical battle.
“The Leinster Championship hasn’t been great in years gone by. But, then you’d find yourself walking into a haymaker then come August when you’d be in an All-Ireland semi-final or final against Leinster opposition.”