Kilkenny and Limerick face off against one another in Division 1A of the Allianz Hurling League this afternoon, and Jackie Tyrrell has added another layer to the conversation by claiming that neither team are in the top three in the country.
The All Ireland champions have been in impressive form since returning to action in 2019, beating both Wexford and Tipperary in the opening stages and while Tyrrell admits that he is surprised by their blistering start, he isn’t getting carried away by their form.
“When you win an All-Ireland, the confidence it gives you is unbelievable. And that’s not to be understated, it propels you forward. You saw they went out to Boston and they cleaned the floor with everyone out there. They were enjoying themselves and it was great to see.
“They’re on a conveyor belt and there’s a lot of good things going on in Limerick hurling and if you’re a player, you want to be a front-runner in that.
“I wouldn’t be really getting too carried away by Limerick just yet. It’s a long year. I don’t see them winning the All Ireland this year, I really don’t. They’re nearly going too well for me now. I would be wrapping some of those lads in cotton wool and holding them back a bit.”
Limerick lie top of the table in their first foray back to Division 1A since 2010. Kilkenny are close behind on two points following a win against Cork and a loss to Clare. But, with no relegation from the top division this season, managers are more likely to experiment, making it harder to gauge their championship potential.
Speaking at the launch of the new season of Laochra Gael, Tyrrell maintained that the tables will turn come the summer months and both counties will find themselves struggling.
“Of course [Kilkenny] can win the All Ireland. Do I think they will? I don’t see them there right now. I’d like to see a bit more of the League. Will Richie Leahy be a mainstay? Will they get that full-back solid? How will Cillian [Buckley] come back? How is Richie Hogan’s injury?
“There’s a few questions that I’d like to be a bit more confident on.
“I don’t see them in the top three. In the top three at the minute I’d be looking at Clare, I’d be looking at Tipperary and I’d be looking at Galway. I don’t see Kilkenny or Limerick at the moment. That can change.
“John Kiely will be sitting at home, rubbing his hands tonight but I really like what Clare are doing at the minute and until the League develops a bit more, I don’t have Kilkenny or Limerick in that top three.”
One aspect of the game that the referees will be focusing on this weekend is handpassing with the issue of throwing the ball being clamped down on in recent weeks.
However, Tyrrell believes that the issue should be left alone and admitted that he was a culprit of the practice in his time.
“We are probably getting a bit fussy on it. I was probably a culprit of it myself, the loose hand were I wasn’t really striking connection, but I think it’s a dark art of the game. The good lads get away with it, and the not-so-good lads need to develop it a bit more.
“I think it’s one of those ones, there’s certain things in hurling, do goalkeepers stay within their box when they’re pucking the ball out? No they don’t. Are they picked up on it for a 65 every time? No they’re not. There’s certain small little grey areas and I think that’s one and I think it should be just left alone.
“[Mine] were probably legal 20-30% of the time!
“It’s the speed of the hand. I just think there’s certain grey areas that are beautiful in the game that the good, smart lads will get away with, that is one.
“Always do it when there’s a body in the way of the referee, whenever the ref is behind you, the majority of the lads throw it because you know you’re not going to get picked up.”