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'Waterford will probably need two goals to win but are Limerick going to give them those opportunities?'

This weekend’s All-Ireland hurling and camogie finals are up for discussion in the latest instalment of The Punt.

IT MAY BE mid-December, but this weekend sees an empty Croke Park host the All-Ireland senior hurling and camogie finals. 

On Saturday evening, Galway and Kilkenny face off in a repeat of last year’s showdown — which ended in the Tribeswomen lifting the O’Duffy Cup for the third time in their history. 

The following afternoon, Limerick and Waterford do battle and the Treaty will be favourites to get their hands on Liam MacCarthy once again, having already seen off Liam Cahill’s men in the Munster final last month.   

In the latest episode of The Punt — our monthly show sponsored by William Hill that looks ahead to the major Irish sporting events — we round up The42‘s Gavan Casey, Fintan O’Toole and Sinead Farrell to discuss 2020′s last weekend of small-ball action. 

They are joined on the video call by Shane Stapleton of Our Game, who bring his expert opinion to the table, plus we’ll have predictions and tips from our guests on both games.

kyle-hayes-and-austin-gleeson Limerick's Kyle Hayes and Austin Gleeson of Waterford during the Munster final. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

 ”I think Waterford need to get more from Jack Fagan and Austin Gleeson than they did in the Munster final,” says Shane. 

Jamie Barron is growing into the season and approaching his 2017 form, although I don’t think he’s quite at that level yet. He should have been Hurler of the Year that year. 

“They need him to be a little bit more secure on the ball than he was in that game. Now, he has been since then. So they will need more from them and from Dessie Hutchinson, who scored one point that day. 

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“A lot of it is about getting on the front foot and winning the battle of the middle eight.” 

“Waterford will probably need two goals to win this game but are Limerick going to give them those opportunities?” asks Fintan. “It’s not just in the six backs, look at the work rate of Gearoid Hegarty and Tom Morrissey and the way they hounded the Galway players. 

“A big question for me is can Waterford bridge that gap from the Munster final and whether they can replicate the goalscoring from recent matches.”

galway-players-celebrates-at-the-final-whistle The Galway players celebrate after winning last year's final. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Despite being crowned All-Ireland camogie champions in 2016, Kilkenny have lost the last three finals in-a-row and five in the past seven years. 

Kilkenny’s losing record comes up every time they reach a final and even if they win this time it’ll come up again [in the future] because the numbers are so stark,” explains Sinead.

“They were actually a really dominant force in early times and won seven in-a-row between 1985 and 1991, and another in 1994 but then it was just a barren spell until 2016.”

She adds: “Kilkenny know how to get to finals, it’s getting past that mental block to win when they do. Galway, on the other hand, have quite a good record in finals. They haven’t reached as many as Kilkenny but already have two titles since 2013.”   

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- Originally published at 13.05

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