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GAA Betting: Tipp class can prevail over Cats

Noel McGrath and Liam Sheedy
Tippeary's Noel McGrath and manager Liam Sheedy
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We have a mouthwatering All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship decider at Croke Park on Sunday as two old foes collide and Johnny Ward fancies Tipperary's class to shine through...

"I also felt that Tipperary would struggle to get over the psychological blow of their Munster final hammering by Limerick, but they were allowed to regroup in the sense that they avoided the elite teams up until now and showed immense character with a man down, so much having gone against them, to beat Wexford in the All-Ireland semi-final."

Kilkenny v Tipperary
Sunday, 15:30

Stars aligning for Premier against Cats

"We had lads out there playing the very best in the country and we just worked and worked and worked," Brian Cody said. "In the end, it paid off. They have brilliant hurlers as well as being strong. But in that second half, we had lads just chasing and chasing, blocking, hooking.

"We really worked to make it happen. I wouldn't want to go picking individuals but they were out there playing a wonderful team today and, yes, they did really well."

So said Cody after the hard-fought semi-final win. Yet, as brilliantly pointed out by Malachy Clerkin in the Irish Times after the victory over Limerick last month, the above comments were made from the Kilkenny dressing room in August 1999, after Cody's Kilkenny had beaten Clare to make it to his first All-Ireland final as a manager.

The more things change, and all of that - and here we have Kilkenny facing Tipperary in an All-Ireland hurling final. And what a game to savour.

I must be frank and admit that I have called this hurling championship pretty badly wrong - so feel free to stop reading. I gave Kilkenny very little chance of an All-Ireland this year, given the apparent dearth of quality in their forward line, and Brian Cody can savour no greater achievement if they achieve that aim.

I also felt that Tipperary would struggle to get over the psychological blow of their Munster final hammering by Limerick, but they were allowed to regroup in the sense that they avoided the elite teams up until now and showed immense character with a man down, so much having gone against them, to beat Wexford in the All-Ireland semi-final.

That victory over Wexford was all about players taking responsibility in a critical juncture, something not all Tipperary teams have been apt to do. Note the sea-change.

The feeling here is that Tipperary, who have been written off mentally by many within and outside the county, proved a point in that game. It was astonishing how strongly they finished, their forwards absolutely immense in the last 15 minutes.

Limerick shocked Galway with their intensity in last year's All-Ireland final, the feeling being that Galway would have won a replay. And in the same way a rusty Limerick could not quite live with Kilkenny the last day, but would surely have had their measure in a replay.

Essentially, can Kilkenny play any better than that? There has to be a major doubt. Limerick ruined their chance with bad wides in the first half and were unlucky not to force extra-time.

Tipp attack

Tipperary have the better forwards: consider the scoring of their main dangers against Wexford. Jason Forde hit 0-12, Seamus Callanan 1-2, Noel McGrath 0-4, John O'Dwyer 0-3, Ronan Maher 0-2.

Noel McGrath's switch to midfield has worked brilliantly for Liam Sheedy. He has scored 1-14 from play and has more assists than any other player.

How Tipperary's half-back line deals with Kilkenny's puckouts will be critical and in Brendan Maher, Padraic Maher and Seamus Kennedy, they have perhaps the best half-back line in the game. The chances are Brendan Maher will man-mark TJ Reid, a battle that really could go either way, but one Kilkenny probably need Reid to edge.

For all their amazing qualities, they do not have Tipperary's forwards. Adrian Mullen, Colin Fennelly and Richie Hogan is not a full-forward line Tipp will fear, for all that Fennelly has the power to hurt Barry Heffernan. Kilkenny's 1-21 against Limerick, when almost everything went right on the day, will probably not be enough here.

For the vast bulk of this championship market, Tipp have been far shorter than Kilkenny. That is no longer the case and punters can wade into the Premier, who are very hard to pick holes in under the brilliant Sheedy. Take them to score freely and win well.

Johnny Ward,

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