Lawlor v Gillane? Casey v Cody? The key potential All-Ireland final match-ups

Key duals around the pitch will help decide where Liam MacCarthy winters in 2023.

BACK TOGETHER FOR another round.

aaron-gillane-and-huw-lawlor Aaron Gillane tussling with Huw Lawlor in the 2022 All-Ireland final. Bryan Keane / INPHO Bryan Keane / INPHO / INPHO

Kilkenny and Limerick have forged a path back to Croke Park for another tussle over the Liam MacCarthy. Limerick are the holders seeking a fourth All-Ireland title in-a-row and Kilkenny are the challengers again. 

Two points separated the sides in last year’s final and some key battles around the pitch contributed to that outcome.

2022 All-Ireland Final Match-Ups

  • Huw Lawlor v Aaron Gillane (Gillane 0-7, 4f)
  • Richie Reid v Kyle Hayes (Hayes 0-4)
  • Mikey Carey v Tom Morrissey (Morrissey 0-4)
  • Paddy Deegan v Gearóid Hegarty (Hegarty 1-5)
  • Tommy Walsh v Séamus Flanagan (Flanagan 0-2)
  • Barry Nash v TJ Reid (0-9, 9f)
  • Sean Finn v Martin Keoghan (1-1)
  • Mike Casey v Billy Ryan (1-0)

That scoring haul presents a stark illustration of how the 2022 final unfolded. Limerick’s top scorers hit 1-18 from play while Kilkenny’s main hitters yielded 2-1. Billy Ryan delivered the first goal shortly after half-time after substitute Walter Walsh made an incisive run along the wing. Keoghan’s effort was the product of a precise team move that featured Eoin Murphy and TJ Reid in the build-up.

But it was the Limerick shooters who decided this one, hitting five late points without reply. A Kilkenny burst of scores could only cut the gap to two by the end.

12 months on from that absorbing encounter, what does the 2023 showpiece have in store?

Personnel changes must be noted. Sean Finn, who would normally be a first-choice man-marker, is out for Limerick with a cruciate injury. Declan Hannon has been absent with injury too, but manager John Kiely will give his captain every chance to regain fitness in time for Sunday. Mikey Carey is also unavailable for Kilkenny due to injury.

These suggested match-ups are merely a glimpse into the crystal ball: rotation in the forwards is likely to come into play when the ball is thrown in. Other players who aren’t listed will have a say too. 

Match-Ups on Kilkenny forwards

barry-nash-fouls-tj-reid Barry Nash chasing after TJ Reid. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

  • Barry Nash v TJ Reid
  • William O’Donoghue v Martin Keoghan
  • Mike Casey v Eoin Cody


Of the six forwards who started last year’s All-Ireland final for Kilkenny, five of them are still regular picks in the first 15. Padraig Walsh has been moved to the bench while Tom Phelan started the semi-final win over Clare at half-forward.

TJ Reid continues to lead from the front and remains Kilkenny’s first choice free-taker. Reid failed to score from play in last year’s final but was still prominent in other areas. It was a similar story the last day against Clare, assembling his tally of 0-12 from 10 frees, one ’65 and one sideline cut. But he was also alert to the spilled possession as he set up Eoin Cody for a brilliant goal in the second half.

Nash marshalled Reid in last year’s final and Kiely may choose to stick with that match-up on Sunday. He’s a reliable tracker with plenty of bulk to match Reid’s power.

With Cian Lynch coming back into the Limerick rotation, William O’Donoghue was deployed at centre-half back against Galway. Apart from the crack in defence that led to the Cathal Mannion goal, Limerick coughed up just eight points from play throughout. 

Keoghan operated at 11 in the semi-final against Clare although he failed to impose himself on the game and was withdrawn on 44 minutes. However, he has got plenty of scoring power in his locker and hit a crucial goal in the Leinster final when his side needed one. He could be measuring himself up against O’Donoghue.

The All-Ireland semi-final against Clare belonged to Eoin Cody. Everyone refers to the magnificence of Eoin Murphy’s late save, but Cody’s 1-5 from seven shots was another major factor in Kilkenny’s win. He also won two frees which were converted. He will require considerable attention in the wide spaces of Croke Park. Mike Casey is a reliable corner-back and a likely candidate for the job.

Match-Ups on Limerick forwards

seamus-flanagan-and-tommy-walsh Tommy Walsh and Séamus Flanagan. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

  • Huw Lawlor v Aaron Gillane
  • Tommy Walsh v Séamus Flanagan
  • Paddy Deegan v Tom Morrissey

Aaron Gillane is the Hurler of The Year front-runner. He will cause damage but in Huw Lawlor, they have a sturdy marker who can minimise the destruction. He kept the Patrickswell forward to three points from play last year and the assignment is likely to be even harder this time given the red hot form that Gillane is in. His goal from the throw-in against Galway in the semi-final was a perfect example of his strength and agility. 

Séamus Flanagan doesn’t have a colossal scoring rate but his work ethic is a vital asset to Limerick. He’s a willing volunteer to help out in Kiely’s defence when the cause requires his assistance. At one stage in the semi-final against Galway, he deputised in the half-back line briefly while Kyle Hayes was surging forward to get a point. That might seem like basic levels of awareness and team work but simple systems are still effective at the elite grade of hurling. Tommy Walsh marked him in last year’s final so he’ll know what to expect if Lyng decides to appoint that job to him again.

Tom Morrissey has emerged as one of Limerick’s most consistent forwards this year. When his side was struggling to catch fire in the Munster round-robin series, he was the one who stepped forward to hold back the flood until his other comrades got motoring.

Similar to Flanagan, Morrissey’s biggest strength is the work he does in Limerick’s engine room. He has brilliant vision too: he was the one who drilled the ball into Gillane’s paw for that match-opening goal against Galway in the semi-final. Mikey Carey was in charge of looking after Morrissey in the 2022 final, and in his absence, it could be Paddy Deegan who gets the nod this year.

Deegan is a top defender but he’s a wristy skillful hurler too. He first came into the Kilkenny panel as a midfielder and gradually made his way back into their deep defensive line. He’ll have a bag of tricks for Morrissey too should they be shaking hands before the ball is thrown in.

The 42 is on Instagram! Tap the button below on your phone to follow us!

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel