The talk of the week in the news may have been about boundaries, but on Sunday for 70 minutes there should be little to separate Kilkenny and Waterford when they take to the field at Nowlan Park.
Who could forget the two absolute classics we witnessed between these two Hurling strongholds last summer, with the Cats eventually winning out against a supremely talented Waterford side.
A new year brings new optimism, changes and enthusiasm and most of the neutrals out there are keen to see how Kilkenny bounce back from last years All Ireland defeat to Tipperary.
And by all accounts the signs have been encouraging so far with the Walsh Cup success, however this is a big step up on Sunday.
A few interesting calls have been made by Brian Cody for Sunday’s team that has initially been named.
Padraig Walsh at Full Back is an interesting one in particular. As we all know Padraig is an accomplished wing back, who has also played at midfield and the half forward line so versatility is certainly a key element of his game.
Full back is an entirely different prospect and it takes a very astute player to play that role and of course it takes time to try and acclimatize to it so if this move is as named on the team sheet then it will be interesting to see how it pans out with Conor O’Shea alongside Walsh in the Full Back line..
Further afield Ollie Walsh, Pat Lyng and Sean Morrissey look as if they are going to be rewarded for some positive showings so far and rightly so.
TJ Reid and Richie Hogan have had injuries and Kilkenny will obviously need those guys on the field to be in the reckoning for the opening day league points, and they also provide great leadership for the newcomers.
Waterford have injury concerns and as expected Austin Gleeson has not been named to start along with Maurice Shanahan, Stephen O’Keeffe and Darragh Fives, while Philip Mahony remains a long term injury absentee.
However they are still a class side and in recent times Patrick Curran in particular has been performing well in the Fitzgibbon Cup for DCU.
In Captain Kevin Moran, Pauric Mahony, Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh, Tadgh de Burca and Noel Connors they have real leaders so Sunday’s game should still be riddled with high quality.
It’s actually quite difficult to call this game, but with Kilkenny’s winning momentum, coupled with Waterford’s poor record at Nowlan Park, I think the Cats will edge it.
We will have Full Live Commentary of Kilkenny V Waterford from 2pm on our Kilkenny Frequency Sunday with thanks to Country Style Foods, Granagh Kilmacow, Co.Kilkenny