Lonesharkoy previews the All Ireland Hurling Final and he is going for Kilkenny to beat Tipperary and Joey Holden to win the man of the match award.
Last week we looked to capitalise on the bookies’ willingness to believe in the possibility of an upset and while we didn’t get paid, the manner of Dublin’s win was such to suggest that the line of thinking wasn’t incorrect. On another day, that game would have ended goal-less and if it had, the reigning All Ireland champions would have taken the victory with plenty to spare. As it was, they needed the rub of the green in the closing stages but they still never really looked like losing the tie.
A similar line of thinking could be in order this weekend, where yet again the books all seem to be going out of their way to believe in the underdog.
11/10 is freely available about both sides in tomorrow’s All-Ireland final, which is quite remarkable when we take a step back and assess the situation. Kilkenny come into this game in the hunt for a third Liam MacCarthy Cup success in a row and while there was very little to call between themselves and Tipperary two years ago, there is no evidence on the field of play to suggest that the Cats have regressed even slightly. They did what they needed to do in the Leinster championship this year against Dublin and Galway, they came through a tremendous two-legged battle with Waterford, and they’ve done so in that most inimitable Brian Cody way – with previously unheralded players stepping up to the mark to deliver the goods.
Admittedly the loss of Michael Fennelly is a significant blow, but the Ballyhale man hasn’t been one of the leading performers in the Kilkenny team this year, as evidenced by the fact that even before his injury, he was well down the list of potential All Star winners - according to the betting.
Tipperary, for their part, were spectacular in their Munster final win over Waterford, but somewhat unremarkable outside of that. They did what they needed to do against Limerick and Galway without ever really hitting the high notes in doing so, and not unlike Kilkenny, they come into this game with players like Michael Breen, James Barry and Cathal Barrett as leaders in the team – excellent hurlers, but not the star names.
What we’re left with is a contest between one side that has proven time and again that they have a big match temperament, that has dug deep and pulled themselves out of a hole in the previous round, and that has the most successful manager in the history of the sport on their sideline, up against a team that had one great day against a Waterford team that malfunctioned, that has struggled to deliver their best hurling in Croke Park, and that has a rookie manager on the sideline – in senior intercounty terms.
Tipperary have a great chance of winning on Sunday, but they aren’t worthy of being considered 50/50 shots for this game just yet. It has become fashionable to tip them up and to predict an “upset”, while a quick look at Tipperary hurling supporter sites such as Premierview would lead you to believe that Tipp are going to be hurling against Laois or Antrim on Sunday, such is their confidence – but this writer will retain his faith in Kilkenny until proven otherwise. The opportunity to back the Cats at odds against comes along very rarely, and it will be gratefully take in this instance. Kilkenny at 11/10 is freely available and represents our main tip.
For our second wager this week, we’re going to look into the Man of the Match market and pick out an outsider. The phrase “hammer the hammer” emerged out of Kerry football, based around their desire to target the key man on the opposition side and tear down a key pillar by neutralising that player – whatever it took. As we discussed above, the hammers in the two sides this year have been very different players, but it’s still hard to imagine a situation where the performances of players like TJ Reid, Richie Hogan and Seamus Callinan aren’t crucial.
Callinan is still the most likely source of a Tipperary goal and if he’s stopped, chances are Tipp will be too. Joey Holden is likely to be the man handed the job of curtailing the Drom and Inch attacker and while the responsibility on Holden is significant, from the point of view of the man of the match betting, he’s been given a fast track to the short list. It’s a tough task, but keeping Callinan’s influence to a minimum will ensure that Holden is very much part of the Man of the Match discussion and while there are those who feel that he’s a comparatively weak link and that Paul Murphy could be handed the task of taking on Callinan right from the off, it’s not as if John McGrath doesn’t take plenty of watching on current form either. Expect Holden to start out at full back and if he puts in any kind of decent performance here, he’ll be considered. Take Joey Holden at 33/1 (general) to be Man of the Match for your small stakes wager.
Kilkenny to beat Tipperary at 11/10 with Paddy Power and Betfred
Joey Holden to win the Sunday Game Man of the Match at 33/1 with Paddy Power