With the All Ireland Hurling final replay a mere thirty minutes away, check see what Brian Tobin has to see about this years most highly anticipated match up.
After already being treated to one of the best games in modern times, hurling fans are set to be enthralled once again as Tipperary and Kilkenny gear up for round 2.
The nail-biting final seemed to be in Tipp’s favour for a long spell, before goals from TJ Reid and Richie Power brought the Cats right back into contention. From then on it was anyone’s game as we bore witness to some of the finest hurling in recent years.
Tipperary will be disappointed not to have seized the win in the dying moments, after winning a free on their own 45-yard line. What followed John O’ Dwyer’s effort was a tense wait before the Hawk-Eye technology judged it to be narrowly wide. The Premier forwards were nothing short of spectacular, scoring 1-18 from play between them. It is the defence that will need to up their game for next Sunday’s replay
A similar case could be made for Kilkenny’s right to win last Sunday’s encounter. After Richie Power’s second goal opened up a four point gap, a familiar inevitability began to sink in, as it seemed like the Black and Ambers’ famed resilience would be enough to see out the remainder of the game. TJ Reid gave the kind of performance that shows why he is a clear contender for this year’s Player of the Year Award. An over-dependence on Reid (1-08, 0-6f) will worry the Cats. If the Tipp backs manage to contain him, it could be the deciding factor.
UCD is well represented on both sides of the encounter, with current students Colin O’ Riordan and Noel McGrath featuring for the Premier County. Tipp coach Eamon O’ Shea is also a former Fitzgibbon Cup hurler for the college. The Kilkenny side has 4 players flying the flag for UCD, with Walter Walsh, Cillian Buckley, Joe Lyng and Brian Hogan all past or present Belfield scholars.
The simple truth is that next Sunday’s match is unlikely to live up to the standard set by last fortnight’s encounter. We can count ourselves lucky however, as it is clear that we are enjoying a Golden Era of hurling. After a fifty three year gap, the last three finals have ended in draws, while also featuring 5 different teams. The sport has never been more competitive, and this year’s final, whatever the outcome next Sunday, is testament to that.