Plenty of teams would love to be able to call on the wealth of experience and skill Tipperary have. File photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Fear of the end can be a positive, it can make you push for ‘The Last Dance’

Daithí Burke is 28 and already has five All-Stars, a trend that suggests greatness. File photograph: Inpho

Why move the finest full back of his generation when there is so much now at stake?

For Davy Fitzgerald and Brian Lohan, this is year-defining and it may even define their times with their respective groups. It is that big. File photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

It reminds me of June 2013 when we had to go to that dark place to beat Tipperary

Tipperary’s Cathal Barrett and Limerick’s Seán Finn are hurling’s equivalent of the shutdown corners.    Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Sheedy needs to put his best marker on Kelly and avoid mistake Waterford made

Tony Kelly celebrates scoring a goal during the All-Ireland SHC qualifier against Laois last November. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

It’s not 1998 but there’s still a war to be won when the two sides meet this weekend

Cathal Mannion in full flow against Cork. His form is   key for Galway  as his loss in the semi-final last year was so crucial. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Tribesmen tick all boxes and new faces have added serious depth to to already strong panel

Limerick celebrate their victory over Waterford in last season’s All-Ireland final at Croke Park. They need to make subtle changes in personnel, positional switches  and tactics to keep the opposition guessing. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpoho

The champions have the manager and players to go back-to-back but they still have to evolve

Joe Canning in the thick of it during the  Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Group A match against Limerick at  Pearse Stadium in  Salthill. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

We’re seeing star forwards dropping deeper and defenders roaming forward to clip points

Limerick’s Peter Casey and Sean Finn celebrate after beating Waterford to win the All-Ireland SHC. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

No other county could feel this was an All-Ireland that got away from them

Gearóid Hegarty

All-Ireland hurling final 2020

Waterford’s Jack Prendergast tries to shake off  Limerick’s  Seán Finn during the Munster SHC Final at Semple Stadium. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Limerick have the edge but Waterford might well find a match-winner of their own

Conor Delaney tackles Dessie Hutchinson in last weekend’s All-Ireland hurling semi-final. Photograph: Inpho

Odds stacked heavily against corner-backs like Conor Delaney in the modern game

Brian Cody is looking to extend his long run of All-Ireland semi-final wins on Saturday. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

You have to go back to 2005 to find the last time he had to walk down the sideline and shake the opposing manager’s hand as a beat(...)

I think of this rivalry like the vicious killer clown in the horror movie IT. The clown is called Pennywise and he awakens from the underground world every 27 years to feed his need. The Tipperary-Galway rivalry was asleep since the late 80s. It’s now back in all its glory and hopefully it stays around for a while longer. There are too many good players for it to vanish underground. Photograph: Warner Bros/New Line Cinema

Saturday’s meeting is Rocky IV material and I’m edging towards the maroon corner

Waterford’s Austin Gleeson has struggled for form since 2017. File photograph: Inpho

Nobody ever says that if Cian Lynch doesn’t play well, Limerick don’t play well

Galway’s Conor Whelan muscles past Joe O’Connor of Wexford during their Leinster SHC clash at Croke Park. Photo: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Hooks, blocks and tackles are real indicators of a hardworking team, not running stats

Clare’s Tony Kelly and Gearóid Hegarty of Limerick in the Munster GAA Senior Hurling Championship quarter-final at Semple Stadium last Sunday. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

In the eerie quietness of the stadium, the players will have to generate their own intensity

A frantic, machine-gun Champioship awaits. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

The games will come thick and fast and the weather will be a test of skill and endurance

Jackie Tyrrell (third from left) sits with Kieran Joyce, Cillian Buckley, , Eoin Murphy and Conor Fogarty after winning the 2014 All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Sporting Cathedrals: Same routine is key to keep the head in the bubbling cauldron

Kilkenny manager Brian Cody shakes hands with his  Tipperary counterpart  Liam Sheedy after the Allianz Hurling League  game at  Semple Stadium back in February. Photograph: Oisín Keniry/Inpho

The two managers will send their sides out with a simple message: Do your job

Brian Hogan: with Pádraig Walsh in imperious form, you’d expect that down the middle of the Kilkenny defence will be a no-go area for the Tipperary ’keeper. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

If Kilkenny or Tipp prevail in key area they will have one hand on Liam MacCarthy

Shaun Murphy: the rampaging runs forward by Wexford defenders posed Tipperary problems during the entertaining first half at Croke Park. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Tipperary’s steely resolve finally prevailed to thwart Wexford’s mesmerising freestyle hurling

Wexford’s Kevin Foley in action against Tipperary’s Noel McGrath during the league. If Tipp can limit  Foley’s influence and keep his possessions under 10 to 12 they have a great chance. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Limerick won’t beat Kilkenny unless they match their rivals’ insatiable will to win

Kilkenny’s Richie Hogan scores against Cork.  A goal soon after half-time is different. It does more psychological damage to the opposition.   Photograph:    Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Cork’s challenge wilted in vital third quarter when Cody’s men turned up heat

Laois manager Eddie Brennan: who knows where he will end up as a manager? He has learned from the best, and he will keep learning because that’s the way he’s always been. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

The Laois manager will be a massively calming presence on their biggest day

Limerick’s Gearóid Hegarty breaks past Seán O’Brien of Tipperary in their Munster final victory at the Gaelic Grounds. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

I would have struggled with the idea of being 'rotated' and I wouldn't have been the only one

Tipperary’s Barry Heffernan, Padraic Maher, Ronan Maher and goalkeeper Brian Hogan in action against Clare. Tipp look driven this year and that’s when they are at their most dangerous. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

The players remain the same but Tipp’s mindset radically different since Sheedy’s return

Wexford versus  Kilkenny in 2017  – Wexford Park is without doubt the most hostile environment I have ever played in. The Wexford fans have the ability to create a real noise level, an eerie vibe to the place. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Kilkenny under no illusions about scale of the challenge facing them at Wexford Park

Kilkenny’s TJ Reid in action against Galway in last year’s hurling championship final at Croke Park. Photograph:  Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Brian Cody will keep his players on their toes but if Galway find their form, it may not be enough

The nature of this year’s league actually did Limerick no favours. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Even the All-Ireland champions must accept that distractions can get to everyone

Seamus Callanan of Tipperary and  Kilkenny’s  JJ Delaney  during the All-Ireland final replay in 2014.  Every man was going to do a proper man-marking job that day. If air or light could get between you and your man you weren’t tight enough.  Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

I chased Noel McGrath around Croke Park that day, but really I was chasing shadows

Waterford’s Peter Hogan is challenged by Cathal Malone and Colm Galvin of Clare during the Munster SHC round-robin game at Walsh Park. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Like Clare, Tipperary’s pace and movement could cause major problems for Déise men

Dublin’s Sean Moran in action against Limerick’s Peter Casey. The Cuala defender plays an important role in Dublin’s system. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

The parallels with the 2012 Leinster fixture between these two teams is apparent

Séamus Flanagan celebrates the superbly-worked   Limerick goal which effectively put paid to Dublin’s chances in the league semi-final at Nowlan Park. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

The ability to win ball in this crucial area and use possession well will be key this year

Limerick’s Mike Casey keeps a close eye on Galway’s Jonathan Glynn during the key match-up in the All-Ireland hurling final. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

The young full-back delivered in style by curbing the huge threat posed by Glynn

Galway’s Jonathan Glynn prepares to score a goal against Clare. Curtailing his huge threat from cleanly-won aerial ball will be a huge priority for Limerick. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

The final is won on the pitch but off it there’s tactical plans to be finely-honed this week

Limerick’s Kyle Hayes celebrates scoring a vital late point against Cork in their drawn Munster round-robin game in May. Photograph: Inpho/James Crombie

New format has allowed John Kiely find his best team ahead of All-Ireland semi-final

Lee Chin:  has the natural talent and skills but he has played this summer like a lad whose attention is wandering. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Eoin Murphy has been exceptional while Wexford talisman’s plan hasn’t delivered

Kilkenny’s Cilian Buckely runs out before the Leinster SHC final replay against Galway. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

The Kilkenny hurlers have the elevated status as representatives of the people

Galway’s Adrian Tuohey and Walter Walsh of Kilkenny compete. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

The always analytical Brian Cody will devise a new plan to beat Galway in the replay

Clare’s Shane O’Donnell: for a player who is so brilliant at securing possession, he is so frustrating in his reluctance to shoot. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

The six main contenders for the All-Ireland all have something they need to put right

Limerick’s Cian Lynch in action against Waterford in the Munster Hurling Championship at  Gaelic Grounds on Sunday. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Lynch is fuelling Limerick’s campaign, while Kelly has been stop-start for Clare

Galway’s Johnny Coen with Lee Chin of Wexford during Round 4 of the Leinster championship at Wexford Park. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

A Leinster final against Galway isn’t exactly an enticing prospect for players on both sides

Tipperary’s Mickey Cahill in action against Cork’s Shane Kingston during the Munster championship clash at Thurles.  Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

All that needed to happen was for Mick Ryan's team to be shaken into action

Joe Canning and Galway supporters celebrated in Croke Park. “Sick of hearing about Galway. Sick of looking at them at the All Stars last year. Sick of the image of David Burke lifting the cup . . .” Photograph:  Inpho

The attitude in Kilkenny’s camp will be, ‘They have our All-Ireland’

 Dublin’s Liam Rushe: he  has a rare combination of bulk and speed, and on Sunday he had the attitude to go along with it.   Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Dublin’s Liam Rushe played with a bulldozing authority against Kilkenny that was great to see

Martin Keoghan: “He’s a very underrated player, massive energy levels and work-rate, abrasive in the tackle, high-octane and a real Brian Cody player.”  Photograph: Ken Sutton/Inpho

The league has already been a success for Cody’s side fans will demand win over Tipp

‘I was at the Walsh Cup game between Kilkenny and Wexford last Saturday – the crowd was going spare. The blood was up in everyone. Games just take on a life of their own.’ Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

With all the changes teams will be in a quandary about how to approach the league

Galway manager Micheál Donoghue shows the Liam MacCarthy Cup to the welcoming home crowd in Ballinasloe on Monday. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Galway players have to embrace these next few months but not let it make them soft

Irish Times hurling columnist gives his lowdown on Déise team ahead of Sunday's final

Galway players stand for the national anthem before the semi-final against Tipperary. Can they end the long wait since 1988?  Photograph: Tommy Grealy/Inpho

Secure at full back and with a better balance in attack, Tribesmen get the nod over Déise

A dejected Jackie Tyrrell after the 2010 All-Ireland defeat to Tipperary. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

I still carry the crushing 2010 final defeat to Tipperary with me and I always will

Waterford’s Kevin Moran,  Mikey Kearney and Stephen Bennett celebrate after the semi-final victory over Cork. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Waterford and Galway players have to get into a routine that shrinks their world

Cork’s  Stephen McDonnell and Damien Cahalane in action against Waterford’s  Shane Bennett. Photograph: Oisín Keniry/Ippho

Leaders like Anthony Nash, Mark Ellis and Conor Lehane can carry them through

Head-to-head duel: Galway’s Daithí Burke v Tipp’s Séamus Callanan. Photograph:   Inpho/Lorraine O’Sullivan

This will be a rare match in modern hurling where the match-ups are the key to winning

Waterford full back Barry Coughlan in against Wexford last weekend. Photograph: Inpho/Morgan Treacy

No position has changed more with the evolution of the game than the number 3

Tipperary’s Padraic Maher and Dan McCormack put the shackles on Dublin’s  Donal Burke. An outclassed Dublin still managed to score 1-19 on the day. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

All-Ireland champions must tighten up at the back if they are to retain their crown

Cork’s Alan Cadogan scores the opening goal against Clare in the Munster final. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Banner like a team obsessed with what Cork could do to them rather than vice versa

Kilkenny’s Pádraig Walsh under pressure from David Dempsey of Limerick in their All-Ireland senior hurling championship match at Nowlan Park. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Semple Stadium clash will show which team is on the right track for the All-Ireland series

 Kilkenny’s Colin Fennelly with  Shaun Murphy of Wexford. Murphy provides the cover as his fellow defenders augment the team’s attack. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Shaun Murphy’s covering role gives Wexford defenders the licence to lead the attack

A section of the  packed house at Nowlan Park watch Henry Shefflin in action: “It was two teams facing off in a battle in a desert heat, testing themselves to the last drop.” Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Next week’s draw revives memories of an unforgettable occasion in Nowlan Park

Waterford have a real chance this weekend to lay down some markers. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Derek McGrath has put all the eggs in the championship basket, now it’s time to deliver

'Championship is a different animal. That league quarter-final wasn’t the Kilkenny we’ll see this weekend. Brian Cody will be determined to have Kilkenny fully prepared this time.' Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Wexford are improving but we still don't know if they have the belief required

Clare defender Brendan Bugler at the launch of the Littlewoods Ireland sponsorship of the All-Ireland Championship. Clare have excellent defenders and don’t need a sweeper system. Photograph: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Deploying a sweeper system fundamentally changes the mindset of defenders

 JJ Delaney and Jackie Tyrrell celebrate victory over Tipperary  in the All-Ireland final replay of 2014. “I relished the idea of doing all this so that when the summer came around, I was going into the championship with a hard, strong body.” Photograph: Alan Betson

Seattle Seahawks’ Eddie Lacy gets $55,000 every time he hits a certain weight target

Diarmuid O'Sullivan and Donal Og Cusack in 2006. Photograph: Inpho

Senior players need to offer better example against Tipperary than last year’s disaster

Galway’s Niall Burke and Conor Whelan pressurise  Cathal Barrett of Tipperary during the league final at the Gaelic Grounds. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

No better team than Galway to punish you if mental preparation not as it should be

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