It’s a fixture that has captured the imagination of many a sports fan.
Kilkenny v Tipperary isn’t just a contest that attracts Hurling enthusiasts. It’s spoken about worldwide.
The two sides have served up some cracking contests over the years and I don’t expect this to be any different on Saturday evening.
The fact that the game is being played under lights in Thurles really adds to the occasion as a spectacle.
Tipperary have been flawless in the League so far and the retention of their hunger is quite striking.
John McGrath has really taken up much of the scoring responsibility and Steven O’Brien looks to have finally found his feet with the small ball code at wing forward.
Kilkenny’s win over Cork last weekend was massive psychologically. Had they lost, then that doubt would have crept in even more, but the relief of the victory may allow them to hurl with a little bit more freedom and expression this weekend.
Obviously the return of Colin Fennelly was huge and with Richie Hogan in top form Kilkenny are coming in to this game with serious optimism and I don’t think for a second that this “ah it’s only the League” theory will apply on Saturday.
Brian Cody’s men are still hurting from last September, make no mistake about that. So retribution is a huge motivational factor here and I really think they will come out and set fire to Tipp on Saturday.
Former Kilkenny manager Kevin Fennelly says if Kilkenny solidify their defence then they are still as good as anyone.
Speaking to KCLR ahead of Saturday nights Kevin says last years All-Ireland Final is not a fair reflection of both counties.
“Last years All-Ireland left a bit of a mark on a few players and I thought we were a little bit unlucky. I would be trying to forget about last years All-Ireland Final.
“It was far too loose in my opinion for Tipperary and they had it far too easy and I think the players were a bit unlucky in that sense, that we left it too open at the back and a little bit of inexperience showed.
“But we scored 2-20 in the All-Ireland. We got well beaten in the end, but we were a point or two up with 17 or 18 minutes to go in that match so it’s not all doom and gloom at all, that if we do a bit of sorting out at the back, we are as good as anybody.”
The big test Kilkenny will get defensively will obviously come from the Tipperary forwards and if ever there was a chance to exorcise some of those demons from last September then this is it.
I think the Kilkenny defenders are probably sick to the teeth of the criticism they have been getting of late and they will be determined to right a few wrongs.
This one should be equally as entertaining as all of the encounters between the two over the past decade and in the end there shouldn’t be much between the sides.
We Will Have Full Live Commentary of Kilkenny v Tipperary on Saturday from 7pm with thanks to Country Style Foods