JOE DEANE says Kilkenny have “brought everything to a new level” in inter-county hurling.
The Cork star, who this week confirmed his retirement from the inter-county game, has first-hand experience of Kilkenny from last year, when Cork went down to an All-Ireland semi-final defeat to the Cats.
“Absolutely, they brought everything to a new level last year, and their hunger is incredible.
“I remember last year getting a couple of balls against them and thinking I was on my own with a free shot — and if you were playing another team you probably would have been — but there’d be two or three Kilkenny players there around you.
“It wasn’t just the player you were marking, there were two or three with him. In the All-Ireland final they probably brought it up another level as well, and so far this year they’ve proved that again every time they’ve gone out.
“They have a conveyor belt to talent, they look to be that good, to be fair to them. They’re ahead of the pack.”
Deane also tips Galway star Joe Canning for the very top, saying he has “certainly lived up to the hype”.
He said: “If there were a transfer market in hurling you’d bring in a scoring forward. Kilkenny have an abundance of those players, like Henry Shefflin. Ken McGrath was very good at centre-forward.
“Joe Canning, given his age and so on, has a lot going for him — he’s a target man, great free-taker, scores sideline cuts. For someone so young he’s proven himself time and again. I’ve been hugely impressed with him.’’
Deane added: “There’d been an awful lot of talk about him for a few years. You were thinking ‘how will he do against a top senior full-back’, but when Galway weren’t going well last year against Tipp he soloed through with three players hanging off him and then buried a goal.
“I think he’s certainly lived up to the hype, for a young lad. He’s got it all but from interviews he seems down-to-earth, a solid guy who won’t go crazy.”
Meanwhile, the economic downturn is having an effect on GAA ticket prices, with the reduced admission prices for Sunday’s NFL finals at Croke Park a thank you to supporters for attending earlier games.
Sunday’s double-header involving Kerry and Derry (Division 1) and Monaghan and Cork (Division 2) and tickets for the Croke Park double bill are priced at €25, €5 less than last year’s final admission prices — and group passes are also available for these games.
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