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Dublin: 9°C Tuesday 26 January 2021

What do you think of our combined Kilkenny and Tipperary starting XV?

This lot would take some stopping.

1. Eoin Murphy (Kilkenny)

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Murphy has recovered from a shaky League semi-final against Clare to produce some impressive championship performances.

A former Fitzgibbon Cup winner outfield with Waterford IT, Murphy is a model of consistency between the sticks for the Cats and he pulled off that memorable catch over his crossbar to deny Waterford’s Pauric Mahony an equalising point in the All-Ireland semi-final replay.

2. Paul Murphy (Kilkenny)

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

This guy is just an absolute colossus for Kilkenny. The Danesfort man linked up with the Kilkenny squad in 2011 and is now preparing for his 6th All-Ireland decider (including replays).

Murphy was absent for the League semi-final loss to Clare due to injury but his return has helped to shore up the Kilkenny defence.

3. James Barry (Tipperary)

Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

Barry is the accidental hero of the Tipperary full-back line after stepping into the position during the 2014 campaign and he’s rarely put a foot wrong since.

It looks like he’ll be given the job of curtailing Colin Fennelly, number 14 in our team, in Sunday’s All-Ireland final.

4. Cathal Barrett (Tipperary)

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Was in Hurler of the Year form up until the All-Ireland semi-final, when Galway placed Conor Cooney on him.

Tipp’s corner backs, Barrett and Michael Cahill, struggled at times under the high ball and this might be an area that Kilkenny can exploit. Barrett could find himself facing Kilkenny’s teen sensation Liam Blanchfield but he’s one of Tipp’s most dependable players.

5. Pádraig Walsh (Kilkenny)

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Following in the footsteps of his older brother Tommy in the Kilkenny number 5 shirt, Pádraig displays many of the same qualities.

He’s quick and brilliant in the air despite standing just 5ft 11″ tall. It’s likely that Walsh will pick up Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher or Noel McGrath on Sunday.

6. Pádraic Maher (Tipperary)

Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

We’ve slotted Maher in at centre half back on our team, despite the fact that he’s playing at left half back for the Premier County.

Maher is no stranger to the central position but is viewed as a better option for Tipp at number 7, with his younger brother Ronan filling the number 6 role.

7. Cillian Buckley (Kilkenny)

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Buckley has emerged as one of Kilkenny’s most influential players in recent seasons.

Strong, powerful, aggressive and excellent in the air, Buckley is the archetypal modern-day wing-back who’s also capable of taking a score and delivering quality ball inside.

8. Conor Fogarty (Kilkenny)

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

The unsung hero of the Kilkenny team, Fogarty is finally gaining the recognition that he deserves and looks a nailed-on certainty for a first All-Star award, which is overdue.

Showed his versatility when slotting back to centre back for the Waterford replay but will be returned to midfield for the final, with Kieran Joyce expected to revert to the half-back line. Fogarty’s defensive instincts will see him occupy a deep-lying role but his equaliser in the drawn Waterford game was superb too and he’s dangerous when he gets forward on marauding runs.

9. Michael Breen (Tipperary)

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Breen made his debut for Tipperary last year but is now firmly-established as a first-choice alongside captain Brendan Maher at midfield.

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A player with an eye for goals and points, Breen is given the licence to make his presence felt in the opposition’s half, as Maher holds the fort.

10. Richie Hogan (Kilkenny)

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Former Hurler of the Year Hogan remains as vital as ever to the Kilkenny cause. He’s caused plenty of problems for Tipperary in the past in League and All-Ireland finals and will take close watching again.

The conundrum for Tipp is what to do if Hogan plays at centre forward but drifts out around the middle third. Do they man-mark him or pick him up zonally? One for Michael Ryan to ponder.

11. Patrick Maher (Tipperary)

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

‘Bonner’ is back to his best this year and his contribution to the Tipperary cause is invaluable. Even when things weren’t going well against Galway, Maher was constantly chasing, hooking and blocking opponents.

His industry allows Tipperary’s scorers around him to do their stuff and it will be interesting to see where he’s positioned on Sunday. Will Tipp stick leave him at centre-forward or move him across on Pádraig Walsh?

12. TJ Reid (Kilkenny)

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Hurler of the Year and heavily influential on the scoresheet again this summer. Reid, by his own high standards, will probably feel that he could be doing more from play, however.

But there could be one massive performance in the Ballyhale man for the biggest game of the season and as he’s hurt Tipperary so often in the past, the Premier County are well aware of his potential to wreak havoc.

13. John McGrath (Tipperary)

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

One of the real stars of championship 2016, McGrath is both a scorer and creator in Tipperary’s attack. Playing with a maturity beyond his years, McGrath has taken the chance to impress after injury deprived him of the chance to make his senior championship debut in 2015.

McGrath is a clinical finisher but plays with the awareness that allows him to bring other players into the game. Made one goal and scored the other when Tipp beat Galway – and bagged a memorable Munster final hat-trick.

14. Colin Fennelly (Kilkenny)

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Two-goal hero against Waterford last time out, Fennelly’s positioning on the edge of the square was crucial. A talented player who can also operate in the half-forward line, Fennelly could be the man that Kilkenny feel can get at James Barry.

But in an ever-rotating attack, Fennelly is flexible enough to play in almost any position. Expect him, TJ Reid and Richie Hogan to operate on the edge of the square at various times.

15. Seamus Callanan (Tipperary)

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Tipp’s go-to man in attack is Callanan and he’s the player they’ll want to feed with quality ball on a regular basis. Callanan’s averaging more points per game (10) in championship 2016 than any other player.

He’s collected 2-34 from four games thus far and even though he didn’t score from play against Galway, his role in John McGrath’s goal was crucial, scooping a handpass away from low to the ground.

Honourable mentions for Kilkenny pair Joey Holden (full-back) and Walter Walsh (wing-forward), and Tipp duo Ronan Maher (centre-back) and John O’Dwyer (corner-forward). 

Do you agree with our selection? Leave your feedback in the comments section below. 

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