“Both teams are going into it in a good way, not firing on all cylinders. It’s going to be depend on how Lar Corbett and Henry Shefflin perform. Whoever does better there, their team is going to win. It’s set up for a great game, another cracker. It could be a draw and I reckon it’s going to be awful close. In the semi-final, Kilkenny did what they had to do and when Waterford came back at them, Kilkenny chipped away again. But you never see Kilkenny hitting 80-yard shots like they did, and wide after wide. Brian Cody I’m sure didn’t tell his players to ease off but maybe they did subconsciously. And in the other semi-final, I never felt that Tipperary were going to lose it. They were enough ahead and never under too much pressure. Neither team showed their full hand but I’ll go with Tipperary to shade the final. There’s more goals in them and that’s going to make the difference.”
Gavin O’Mahony – Limerick
“I think I’ll have to go with Tipperary. This is their time to win and Tipp’s players will be looking at this as an era to make the most of. They’re on top and they have players on top of their game. They’ll get more goals too and will prove too hard to stop for Kilkenny. Tipp have six forwards all capable of scoring goals. Having said that, you can never write off Kilkenny and ahead of last year’s final, not many people would have given Tipp much of a chance. I’m expecting a huge game from Kilkenny and Henry Shefflin but they won’t get the same space afforded to them in the Leinster final and All-Ireland semi-final. Ultimately, Tipp have a better chance of scoring more goals and that’s what it will boil down to. But what are the odds on a first draw in an All-Ireland final since 1959? I just hope that the referee Brian Gavin lets the game flow. Let them at it and let the best team win. We should have no dodgy calls deciding the game and it’s set up perfectly now. Tipp were very aggrieved with 2009 and the penalty call while Kilkenny will point to losing Shefflin early last year. Now we have the best two 15s ready to go at it hammer and tongs.
John Mullane – Waterford
I think it’s going to a replay. I’m going for a draw, for the first time since 1959, with Tipp to win the replay. I think it’s going to be really close because Tipp are being judged on the Munster final. We conceded seven goals but despite being awful on the day, we scored 0-19. Kilkenny are waiting all year for this game. They’re going to come out and tear into Tipperary but Tipp will respond to that. If you weigh up last year’s final – Tipp got the start they wanted and goals at the right time. If Kilkenny can eliminate that and close down the space, which I think they will, it could be very tight. If I was a betting man, the two bets I’d be having are for the game to end in a draw and for a player to be sent off. It will be dog eat dog, no let up in it and it will be interesting to see if Brendan Maher is restored to the starting line-up for Tipp. If I was Tipp manager Declan Ryan, I’d have Maher in the team. He’s too good to have on the bench. And if Tipp are to win this game, I think he has to start. Michael Fennelly’s being having a brilliant year at midfield for Kilkenny but Maher could be the man to do a job on him. But if Fennelly gets on top, Kilkenny could be well on the road to victory.
Paudie O’Sullivan – Cork
It’s nearly impossible to call. On form at the moment, you’d have to say Tipperary but Kilkenny have been waiting for this game since last year’s final and on the day, I think they might do it. It’s 1-1 from the last two finals and this really is winner takes all for both teams. And if this latest instalment is anywhere near as good as the last two finals, we’re in for a treat. Kilkenny will look back at how much space they gave the Tipp forwards last year. For Lar Corbett’s first two goals, there was only one Tipp player inside the Kilkenny 45, and that’s not something you see too often. The first goal was one on one with Noel Hickey and for the second, he ran 30-35 yards unchallenged. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of the Kilkenny half backs dropping deeper to cover that but the danger then is that you leave somebody like Noel McGrath or Seamus Callanan loose from 60 yards out and they’ll punish you. Midfield could be the deciding factor and if I was asked to put money on either team, I wouldn’t be forking out a huge amount. As long as it’s a good game, I don’t mind. But I’m giving Kilkenny a hesitant vote.
Damien Hayes – Galway
I’m going for Tipperary. Overall, they’re better; it’s as simple as that. The tough semi-final against Dublin will bring them on a pile too. Tipp are at the top at the moment and that’s one of the other reasons why they’ll win it. Kilkenny are dangerous though, no doubt about that. They have a point to prove but I have a feeling that Tipp are going to win the All-Ireland again. They’re better equipped than Kilkenny to do it. I’ve always said that the key area in any game is the middle eight – half back line, midfield and half forward line. The key is keeping the ball out of your own full back line and getting it into the opposition full back line. And I think that Tipperary have the players to do the damage if they can get the ball inside. But I don’t think there will be too many goals in this final – and it wouldn’t surprise me if there were none at all. It could be a scoreline along the lines of Tipp 0-20, Kilkenny 0-17.