Tipp hoping to derail Cats

TWELVE months ago Kilkenny ousted Tipperary by eight points in the All-Ireland MHC semi-final and all the signs point to a repeat when the sides convene for another minor hurling showdown in Croke Park tomorrow at noon.

Kilkenny have moved forcefully through this season’s championship as they look to retain the All-Ireland crown they lifted last September.

In the provincial decider against Wexford they were clear victors, 11 points separating the teams at the final whistle. They have an attacking gem in centre-forward Sean Kehoe, who struck 0-11 in that success over Wexford and the full-forward line of Ger Aylward, Walter Walsh and Canice Maher can cause havoc as well.

Cathal Kenny is an enterprising midfielder and Richie Doyle knits the defensive challenge together at centre-back.

Tipperary have made two changes in personnel and a host of positional changes for this game. Dan McCormack replaces the injury Paul Ryan in goal, while Andrew Ryan comes into the side at left corner-back.

The defensive inclusion of Ryan necessitates a positional reshuffle with Denis Maher, Willie Ryan and John Meagher forming a new half-back line, and Brian Stapleton and Alan Hogan forming a new midfield partnership.

In attack Sean Curran is now at right half-forward, Thomas Butler plays at centre-forward, Ruairi Gleeson moves inside to full-forward while Adrian Cleere switches to left corner-forward. The player to make way is Michael O’Brien.

The form guide points towards Kilkenny. Tipperary struggled to put away Wexford in the quarter-final, narrowly prevailing by 0-20 to 0-19 and they will need Murray to fire along with Sean Curran and Ruairi Gleeson, and Brian Stapleton to come out on top in midfield. But star forward John O’Dwyer is still out with a broken jaw. Kilkenny look the best bet.

Verdict: Kilkenny.

KILKENNY: J Power; I Duggan, W Phelan, J Lyng; L Harney, R Doyle, J Gannon; C Kenny, O Walsh; G Brennan, S Kehoe, C Buckley; G Aylward, W Walsh, C Maher.

TIPPERARY: D McCormack; S Maher, L Butler, A Ryan; D Maher, W Ryan, J Meagher; A Hogan, B Stapleton; S Curran, T Butler, E Murray; D Collins, R Gleeson, A Cleere.

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