Monday, 29 August 2011

Cats to regain Liam McCarthy Cup

Yesterday’s viewing in Croke Park was dire.  Pat Spillane described it as ‘shiite football’ during his half time analysis.  Hurling purists would have declared it as a great advert for hurling!

It mattered little to Dublin as they went one step closer to lifting Sam.  If Donegal had pushed on from their three point lead, Jim McGuiness would have been hailed a tactical genius.  One that Arsenal could have done with in their dugout yesterday.  The influence of Rooney and Ashley Young would have been severely curbed.  Thankfully not, as my Fantasy League team would have suffered as a result.

So from a low scoring, drab encounter, next Sunday promises a different game with the scoreboard ticking over on a more regular basis.  Yesterday it changed on 14 occasions.  Last year’s hurling final brought 40 scores, nearly three times as many.  The 2009 final produced 47 scores.

2009 Kilkenny 2-22 Tipperary 0-23
2010 Tipperary 4-17 Kilkenny 1-18
2011 Tipperary ?-?? Kilkenny ?-??

When the ball is thrown in at 3.30 this Sunday at HQ, who will be favourites to climb the famous Hogan Stand steps at 4.45 or so?  It is a tough one to call.  Once again Mickey Glover gives his opinions on who will prevail.

Mickey Glover

“My opinion is this year’s final will be much closer than last year. Kilkenny showed in the Leinster Final they are still capable of turning the screw on teams when it’s required. Henry Shefflin and Tommy Walsh returned that day and gave top drawer displays.”

Mickey points out that Dublin may have exposed a weakness in Tipperary, a chink in their armour.  “In the semi-final, Tipperary were pushed all the way by a very capable Dublin team.  The Dubs ran at Tipp causing them some problems and they quickly closed down Tipp's forwards.”

This will not have been lost on the Kilkenny management team.  “Cody and Fogarty (Martin) will have seen this and you can guarantee Tipp won’t get the space they enjoyed last year and will be shut out much quicker.”

Last season Lar Corbett was the key that unlocked the Kilkenny defence.  I asked Mickey how Kilkenny would approach this year’s final.  “Cody will have had time to prepare Kilkenny and develop some type of plan to curb the free running of Corbett.”

“They will probably try to keep a player between him and the Kilkenny nets all the time.  Some are thinking Tommy Walsh could curb him but I don't think he will be tasked with this job. Cody may stick with the old faithful of 6 on 6.”

King Henry Shefflin
“Kilkenny's defence are very strong under the high ball, especially Walsh and Delaney.  If they can stop the Tipp half forwards especially Noel McGrath and Seamus Callanan running this will have an impact on Tipp's scoring threat, along with the danger of Corbett popping up unmarked in front of the Kilkenny net.”

“Tipp’s half back line, is also very influential, with Padraig Maher defensively strong and also capable of scoring a few points if given the space. What role King Henry (Shefflin) takes during the game may also impact the outcome. Like Corbett, he sometimes roams out towards midfield picking up ball, scoring or play making for the inside forwards, but again only on Sunday will we see the layout.”

Tipperary may have taken a step back since last year. They had a mixed league campaign, won a poor Munster championship and struggled against Dublin in the semi-final.”

“Kilkenny, however have done what they always do. They worked through the league before losing to Dublin in the final, with a pretty unknown side.  Then in the Leinster final brought their A game to the
Jones Road
venue.  Next up, they defeated a poor Waterford team in the All-Ireland semi-final and are now facing the team that destroyed them and a 5 in a row bid last year.”

So having looked at both teams, what is Mickey’s verdict on who will lift the Liam McCarthy Cup on Sunday? 

“I am going for Kilkenny. Based on both teams this year I think they will be better prepared for the fight this time, Tipperary might find hunger lacking a bit but I expect the game to be a classic and very tough encounter with very little in it.”

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