Ashling Dalton looks ahead to his weekend’s All Ireland Hurling Final replay between Kilkenny and Tipperary.
Another year, another hurling final replay. Last year’s version will certainly go down as one of the best hurling matches in living memory, and considering the two teams on show on Saturday night, this year should be no different.
It will be an entirely different game this time round, with Eamon O’Shea and Brian Cody looking for that extra edge over each other. As with any hurling match, anything can happen, but here are three things that will definitely feature in Saturday’s showdown.
1. A plan for Richie Hogan.
The Danesfort man has been Kilkenny’s main trump card this year, his ability to link up play, create scores, and offer protection to his own defence makes him their most important player. So naturally Tipp will be looking to curb his influence.
When Hogan was moved to centre forward in the original match, he made a massive difference. If he starts there the next day, Michael Cahill may be recruited to do a man-marking job and if he can do this effectively, Tipp will be in the driving seat.
2. Kilkenny to go defensive.
For Kilkenny’s defence to concede 1-28 is massive, considering they are supposed to be the strongest in the country. The Tipperary attack really ran them ragged in the original match. Their off the ball running was causing major problems. Jackie Tyrell was being sucked out where he was not comfortable.
It is unlikely this will be the case on Saturday. JJ Delaney and Jackie will have to hold their positions and not let Callanan and Bubbles to inflict damage.
3. No shootout
Everyone will be expecting for another massive-scoring final, but that might not be the case. A lot of factors such as weather conditions and defensive gameplans could result in a low scoring affair. All Ireland Finals are always decided on one game changing moment or score and this one will be no different.
If this is the case, a tight tense affair will have a even higher entertainment value.
Ashling Dalton, Pundit Arena.