Anticipation is building ahead of Tipperary’s All-Ireland Senior Hurling Semi-Final against Kilkenny at Croke Park on Sunday.
The sides have met in the last three All-Ireland Finals and this time they’re battling for the right to play Galway in the final on September 9.
Tipperary will go into the game in confident mood, having won the Munster Championship for the fourth time in five seasons last month when they beat Waterford in the final, and with just one defeat in their last 13 championship matches.
However they’re the 6/4 outsiders against the holders Kilkenny (6/4-on), who beat them in last year’s final, and who are contesting the county’s 16th All-Ireland semi-final in-a-row. Kilkenny suffered a rare defeat against Galway in the Leinster Final but bounced back to beat Limerick by 9 points in the quarter-final.
If Tipperary win on Sunday they’ll appear in an All-Ireland Senior Hurling Final for the fourth year in-a-row for the first time in the county’s history. If Kilkenny win on Sunday they’ll appear in an All-Ireland Senior Hurling Final for a record 7 times in-a-row. The last time they didn’t appear in a final was 2005 when Cork defeated Galway.
Tipp manager Declan Ryan, in an interview in our sports supplement, says he’s expecting a big performance from his team.
He says that his players are now in a much better frame of mind than they were approaching last year’s All-Ireland Final. Acknowledging that his side might have been “blitzed” for the first ten minutes of last year’s final against Kilkenny, he says that the team has improved steadily in every game this year and he’s expecting a further improvement on Sunday.
“The guys have put a massive effort into their physical preparation and mentally we’re in a better place than we were last year”, he added.
The big match starts at 3.30.
Tipp are also involved in the curtain-raiser, the All-Ireland Minor Hurling Semi-Final against Galway, which starts at 1.30.