Patrick Maher scores Tipperary’s first goal against Kilkenny in the All-Ireland final: All the Tipperary forwards, while playing artistically and intelligently, also got stuck in and dug out a draw when losing seemed to be on the cards for them. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Though Kilkenny have done it all before, the Munster side have it in them to finish more efficiently

Tony Kelly and Colm Galvin of Clare celebrate victory at the end of the All-Ireland Hurling Under-21 Championship Final at Semple Stadium in Thurles. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Banner county’s high achievers have reached the top on hard work and dedication

Kilkenny and Tipperary will again have to go toe to toe after their All-Ireland hurling final replay at Croke Park. Photograph: James Crosbie.

Again the extention of intercounty championship is taking toll on club competitions

Kilkenny’s Brian Kennedy and  JJ Delaney in action against Tipperary’s Séamus Callanan. Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Latest Kilkenny v Tipperary showdown will produce its own, as yet unscripted, dynamic

The Wexford hurlers’ championship odyssey was one of John Allen’s highlights this year and he is delighted to welcome Liam Dunne and his team back into the “almost contenders” section for next year’s championship. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Life beyond management and a small ball and a stick made of ash as I savoured other pleasures also

“Twitter carried the news that Henry was available to play in the semi-final game against Galway. Brian, though, not one of the Twiteratti I’d guess, held him in reserve.” Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho.

Cats boss has used his legendary star sparingly this season and continues to prioritise the team – and All-Ireland glory

Patrick Maher: will give Cork’s Marc Ellis a real test. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

High-scoring game likely in which back lines set to play decisive part

Limerick will require top-notch displays from the likes of Paul Browne, here scoring a goal against Wexford, if they are to prevail on Sunday. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

But superior strength on the bench could tilt the balance in favour of Brian Cody’s side

Dublin manager Anthony Daly shows his frustration as his charges go down meekly to Tipperary at Thurles in the All-Ireland quarter final. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

All the positive vibes and quality training sessions cannot guarantee big-day performances

Cork’s Lorcan McLoughlin with Limerick’s Donal O’Grady and Declan Hannon  during the Munster final. Hannon can be a key figure for Limerick if he is used in a central position. Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

All intercounty or club games should be finished on the day – to help give the game back to club players

As in life this schoolyard game was kind of dominated by the strong but mistakes were rarely if ever commented on. Photograph: Inpho

Playing at the top level is a different ball game but for kids, participation and fun are what count

Limerick players celebrate in the dressing room with manager John Allen after their championship success at Gaelic Grounds in Limerick last year where Cork were beaten. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Cork have an edge in three championship games played but Limerick have a winning momentum

Kilkenny  manager Brian Cody speaks to Tommy Walsh before introducing him  as a second-half substitute during the Leinster GAA Hurling Senior Championship semi-final against Galway.  Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

These players are skilled exponents in the finer points of a code bordering on an art form

Galway’s Joe Canning scores a late penalty during last Sunday’s exciting Leinster senior hurling semi-final against Kilkenny at O’Connor Park. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

We can continue to expect the unexpected in the game that keeps on giving

Mark Ellis held the centre of defence for Cork in their Munster semi-final defeat of Clare at  Semple Stadium. Photograph Inpho.

Even though none of the contenders are out of contention yet, there have been a few surprises

Training time for the Limerick hurlers at the Gaelic Grounds. Críonna Tobin’s fascinarting presentation to the  GAA’s Games Development Conference at Croke Park appeared to prove that high intensity training produces better core fitness results than the more traditional endurance running. Photograph:  James Crombie/Inpho

Críonna Tobin’s fascinating research proves old ‘laps of the field’ approach limited

In the Munster Hurling Final of June 2004 Waterford’s John Mullane is restrained by Cork’s Seán Óg Ó’hAilpín after striking Brian Murphy. Photograph:Patrick Bolger/Inpho

Over the years this fixture has thrilled and disappointed in equal measure

Shane Dowling celebrates a late point against Tipperary in last year’s Munster semi-final at the Gaelic Grounds.

My former team are an honourable, hardworking, keen, decent group of talented hurlers

The Emeralds GAA club ground, Páirc Smáirgaid, in Ruislip, London.

2014 hurling championship started last month, well before the television broadcasters began their salvos

Pucks out won/lost, hooks/blocks made and the free count are just some of the statistics of interest to top hurling coaching teams.   Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Analysing various match statistics now part of the brief for any top-class hurling coaching team

John Allen wonders what it was like for the much-honoured  Tommy Walsh to have remained  on the bench throughout  last Sunday’s Allianz  Hurling League final against Tipperary. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Pity the out of form, the out of favour, or the out of time, but the championship goes on

Clare’s Brendan Bugler comes under pressure from Niall O’Meara and Patrick Maher of Tipperary in the Allianz Hurling League Division One  semi-final. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Kilkenny are still the class act with their defensive unit well drilled and cohesive

Tipperary manager Eamon O’Shea Eamon isn’t a man for throwaway or unmeasured remarks. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Tipp boss Eamon O’Shea revealingly wants his players to ‘like the ball more’

 Clare celebrate victory over Cork at Croke Park after winning the county’s fourth  All-Ireland senior hurling title. Photograph: Alan Betson.

A fair chance should be afforded to all teams taking part in the Liam MacCarthy Cup

The GAA has made huge strides in coaching. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Keeping as many children involved for as long as possible is vital for the game

 Cork’s Patrick Horgan: has been the standout player for Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s side and if he is curtailed or has an off day, they will struggle. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/ Inpho

‘The manager, from my experience, has no real reason to be on the sideline. There is not a hope in hell of him being heard issuing(...)

Clare’s Shane O’Donnell showed that he’s no one (hat)trick pony against Waterford.

Clare, at this stage, are looking good and Kilkenny aren’t gone away yet

 Richard Coady and fellow Mount Leinster Rangers  players celebrate after the Carlow club had beaten Loughiel Shamrocks at Páirc Esler in Newry to earn a place in Monday’s All-Ireland Senior Club Champinship final in Croke Park. Photograph: John McIlwaine/Inpho/Presseye

Mount Leinster’s rise a fairy-tale but Portumna more likely to have happy ending

Kilkenny manager Brian Cody: his sides can never be under estimated. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Winners are hard to predict but several home sides appear to have a distinct advantage

LIT will expect sharp shooting from Tony Kelly in the Fitzgibbon Cup. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho.

Inprovincial championships may be on last legs due to lack of public interest

Cork’s Michael O’Sullivan and Patrick Horgan with Gavin O’Mahony of Limerick during last weekend’s NHL Division IB opener at Páirc Uí Rinn: “If this was a championship match and we were heading for a replay we’d be tipping Limerick for victory the next day out,” was John Allen’s verdict on the draw. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

If last weekend’s endeavour was an indication of what’s to come then we want more

Aidan Fogarty in action for Kilkenny during their NHL  final victory over Tipperary last May. Neither of the  finalists made much of an impact on the championship later in the year, again raising the question of just how important is the league. Photograph: Inpho.

Winning the league is a bonus for that county but doesn’t guarantee greater things later on

The players are, at this time, in the team room. Many are semi-togged. Some are on the masseur’s table having a final rub down. Photo: James Crombie

Former Cork boss John Allen recalls what it’s like to be involved in an official capacity on All-Ireland hurling final Sunday

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