Kilkenny’s Walter Walsh comes under pressure from Tipperary’s Séamus Kennedy. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Rejuvenated Kilkenny present the usual challenge in a contest set to go the distance

Cillian Buckley starts for Kilkenny against Tipp on Sunday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Brian Cody makes one change while Liam Sheedy retains starting XV for Croke Park

This weekend marks 21 years since TJ Reid’s first appearance in an All-Ireland programme.

The Kilkenny captain’s first All-Ireland final day appearance was 21 years ago aged 10

Colin Fennelly: the  four-time All-Ireland winner’s extended family is steeped in the proud successful tradition of Kilkenny hurling. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

"There's hurling everywhere," says Ned Quinn of county that leads the roll of honour

Kilkenny’s goalkeeper Eoin Murphy in the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship semi-final between Kilkenny and Limerick at Croke Park on July 27th. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

In both hurling and football, the ’keeper is now a lightning rod for storms of disapproval

Kilkenny manager Brian Cody celebrates at the final whistle in 2006. Photo: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

This year's semi-final wasn't the first time the game's most successful manager upset the odds

Kilkenny’s goalkeeper Eoin Murphy in their  All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship semi-final against Limerick at  Croke Park on July 27th. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

By consensus the best goalkeeper in hurling, his highlights reel is now feature-length

Tyrone’s goalkeeper Niall Morgan is unable to stop Stephen O’Brien of Kerry scoring a goal during the All-Ireland SFC semi-final at Croke Park. Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho

The champions’ drive for five will find a familiar obstacle in the road in the final

Dublin’s Con O’Callaghan scores his side’s second goal against Mayo. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Kerry also won their 1982 semi-final by 10 points. It ain’t over till it’s over

Dublin’s Brian Fenton clashes with Mayo’s Cillian O’Connor during the 2017 All-Ireland final at Croke Park. Curbing Fenton’s influence will be one of Mayo’s key priorities. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Mayo will as usual complicate things for champions but have too many questions to answer

Dublin manager Jim Gavin with selector Declan D’Arcy. The partnership with Jim Gavin began with the Dublin under-21s in 2002l Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Jim Gavin’s right-hand man still loves coaching – and not just at county level

Peter Canavan: retained an unshakeable belief that he would win an All-Ireland for Tyrone. He led the county to success in 2003 and won a second medal in 2005. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

First All-Ireland finals and Canavan’s seminal influence drove the county to success

Mayo’s goalkeeper David Clarke saves from Bernard Brogan of Dublin in the All Ireland SFC semi-final in September 2012, the last time Mayo beat Dublin in championship.  Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

The one victory over Dublin this decade came in the only goalless encounter

 Tyrone’s Michael McKernan with Cian O’Connor and Robert McDaid of Dublin during Sunday’s Super 8s encounter. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

No modern championship format will be problem-free. What are the priorities?

Sean O’Shea: has been prominent in Kerry’s attack this summer. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Defending champions Dubs top report cards as counties absorb lessons of the Super 8s

James Horan:  will be in a position to field a selection closer to full strength than at any stage since losing the Connacht semi-final when Mayo host Donegal in Castlebar. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Never mind round robins. The most crucial match in the last round will be winner-takes-all

Diarmuid O’Connor is back in contention for Mayo as they take on Donegal in Saturday’s crucial Super 8s clash in Castlebar. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Kerry, Dublin and Cork look poised for success in final round of games

Páraic Fanning has stepped down as Waterford hurling manager after one year. Photograph:  James Crombie/Inpho

Former selector brought Déise to league final but his side struggled this summer in Munster

Referee Seán Cleere looks on as Wexford and Tipperary players clash during  the All-Ireland hurling semi-final at Croke Park. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

The rapidly changing game has intensified pressure on match officials

Kilkenny’s Walter Walsh in action against Limerick’s  Dan Morrissey at Croke Park. “Limerick are such a physical team and they have huge work-rate so we knew the effort was going to have to be massive.”  Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Kilkenny forward relieved to be injury-free as All-Ireland final looms on the horizon

The Hawkeye system was used for the first time at Croke Park in 2013. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Former referee Dickie Murphy recalls another incident in Thurles earlier this year

 Séamus Callanan scores Tipperary’s goal during the All-Ireland SHC semi-final victory over Wexford at Croke Park. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Liam Sheedy’s men had to overcome three disallowed goals and loss of John McGrath to red card

Kilkenny manager Brian Cody celebrates at the final whistle after his side defeated Limerick in the All-Ireland semi-final at  Croke Park. Photograph: Tommy Dickson

Defeated manager dismisses notion four-week gap made a difference

Kilkenny manager Brian Cody celebrates at the final whistle of the All-Ireland hurling semi-final against Limerick at Croke Park. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Kilkenny manager looks forward to a 16th All-Ireland final after deposing champions

Turloughmore forward scored goals in both the league and All-Ireland finals of 1975

John Kiely and his selectors have tweaked and improved the team by bringing in Na Piarsaigh duo Peter Casey (above) and Will O’Donoghue. Photograph: Inpho

Saturday: All-Ireland SHC semi-final – Limerick v Kilkenny, Croke Park, 6.0 [Live, RTÉ 2 and Sky Arena] 

Tipperary’s Seamus Callanan will do well to emulate his goal-a-game average against Liam Ryan who is a good marker inside the sweeper system. Photograph: Inpho

Doubts surround Tipp but their experience means they can never be written off

Lee Chin and his Wexford team-mates celebrate the Leinster final victory over Kilkenny at Croke Park. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

Former Hurler of the Year feels county are primed for a big display against Tipp

Michael Murphy scores a penalty for Donegal against Kerry. The Croke Park round may be on borrowed time as a result of accumulated unease over Dublin’s advantage in playing there twice and the pressing matter of dwindling box-office appeal and crucially, the mausoleum atmosphere that follows. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

There have been successes in the new format but also worrying trends

Attendances for Dublin matches at Croke Park have dipped in this year’s championship. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Fixture may be recategorised to avoid Dublin having two ‘home’ matches

Donegal manager Declan Bonner: “I’m not going to talk about injuries, sorry.”   Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Modern trends are leading to the non-disclosure of medical data

Donegal’s Jamei Brennan  and Kerry’s Mark Griffin take a tumble during yesterday’s quarter-final phase two clash at Croke Park. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Both Kerry and Donegal managers take encouragement from drawn Croke Park clash

Donegal’s Michael Murphy kicks a late free to equalise the game. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Donegal captain Michael Murphy scores an injury time free to end match in a draw

Donegal duo Paddy McBrearty and Jamie Brennan could  prove a potent threat to Kerry’s defence at Croke Park.  Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Kerry’s attack can give them the edge over Donegal in intriguing Croke Park clash

Mayo’s Keith Higgins with David Bray of Meath during the 2009 All-Ireland quarter-final at Croke Park. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Sunday’s encounter means counties will have met in seven of the past eight decades

Kerry’s Sean Ó Sé and Paul Brennan of Donegal. The counties meet again at Croke Park next Sunday. PhotographCathal Noonan/Inpho

Singapore-based referee will take charge of exhibition match in Croke Park to promote the GAA's Asian Board

Dublin’s Diarmuid Connolly wins a late free which Dean Rock converted to seal victory in the 2017 All-Ireland final against Mayo. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Different considerations around recalling the player but Jim Gavin did the right thing

Kilkenny manager Brian Cody: happy with result and looking forward to the semi-final. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

Cork manager John Meyler laments his side’s inability to supply key forwards

Kilkenny’s TJ Reid and Adrian Mullen vie for the ball with Mark Ellis and Stephen McDonnell of Cork during their All-Ireland SHC quarter-final clash at Croke Park. Photo: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

After trailing at half time the Cats blitzed their opponents in the second half

Kilkenny’s TJ Reid: his team are extremely reliant on him  to make things happen. Photograph:  Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Expect a bounce from Tipperary when they face Laois in All-Ireland quarter-finals

Maria Bailey TD (black dress) arrives at Church of the Assumption in Dalkey for the funeral of her father John who died on Tuesday. Photograph: Crispin Rodwell

Daughter Maria Bailey TD said father reared her to be a ‘strong, independent woman’

Tyrone’s Peter Harte: his  black-card suspension has been struck down.  Photograph:  Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Dublin look far too strong for Cork in their opening Super 8s match on Saturday evening

Cork’s Sean McGrath and Willie O’Connor of Kilkenny. Photograph: Patrick Bolger/Inpho

The most revisited All-Ireland rivalry of all is back in the limelight at Croke Park

Mayo Manager James Horan at the All-Ireland SFC round 4 qualifier between Mayo and Galway at LIT Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Mayo manager delighted as county redresses recent bad run against Galway neighbours

Mayo’s Cillian O’Connor celebrates his team’s win over Galway in Limerick. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

James Carr’s brace of goals consigns Galway to a first defeat in this fixture since 2015

Cork’s Aidan Walsh celebrates a goal against Clare. He has worn the senior county jersey with distinction in both football and hurling.   Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Cahalane says football losing out because of earlier specialisation in the modern era

Aidan O’Shea’s Mayo take on Galway on Saturday night. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Cork face Laois and Cavan take on Tyrone before Connacht rivals clash in Limerick

 Mark Fanning celebrates scoring Wexford’s crucial goal against Kilkenny during the Leinster senior hurling final at Croke Park. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

By the end of next month it's going to be nearly all done. What next?

Wexford players celebrate securing the Leinster championship for the first time in 15 years. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

John Conran, who led team to last title, says manager has brought them to another level

Healy Park, Omagh for the clash of Dublin and Tyrone last summer. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Mayo and Galway head for Limerick as last qualifier round details confirmed

Wexford’s Mark Fanning celebrates scoring a penalty. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Mark Fanning’s late penalty crucial in a first Leinster title win in 15 years for Wexford

Rian O’Neill scores a goal for Armagh in the victory over Monaghan at Clones. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

In 2001 the Ulster county took part in one of the most dramatic of the early qualifiers

Tipperary’s Jason Forde and  Limerick’s Dan Morrissey will be renewing their rivalry in the Munster final at the Gaelic Grounds. Photograph: Ken Sutton/Inpho

With Páirc Uí Chaoimh unavailable, GAA looking at possibility of a double bill

Dublin players celebrate another Leinster title – the county’s ninth success in ten years.   Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

In times of monopoly success GAA tend to wait it out until some new team emerges

Cork’s Kevin O’Donovan, Seán White and Liam O’Donovan show their dejection at the final whistle of Saturday’s Munster SFC Final against Kerry at Páirc Ui Chaoimh. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Cork balance regret at losing with vastly improved display as Kerry look to improve

Kerry’s Stephen O’Brien and Killian O’Hanlon of Cork battle for the ball at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Superior quality up front brings a seventh successive Munster title but it proves to be a battle

Stephen Bray wheels away after scoring Meath’s first of five goals against the Dubs. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Meath’s record win over the Dubs nine years ago marked an unexpected turning point

Meath manager Andy McEntee has surely noted how a slow start by Kildare saw them trailing by 0-1 to 0-7 with less than quarter of an hour up. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Royal County victory unlikely but a strong performance can maintain momentum

Cillian O’Connor is expected to make his Mayo return against Down. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Antrim can make life difficult for Kildare while Armagh could pile misery on Monaghan

James Horan: Mayo manager led  his side to the Allianz Football League title and will expect a sustained championship challenge. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Horan’s men bid to get their challenge back on track with a trick assignment in Down

Carlow’s Chris Nolan in action against Dublin’s Sean Treacy and Chris Crummey in the Hurling Championship round-three match in Netwatch Cullen Park, Carlow. Photograph: Ken Sutton/Inpho

Addressing population shift, eternal fixtures issue, making best of hurling championship

Tipperary captain Séamus Callanan leads his side on to the pitch for the clash against Limerick in Thurles. The game drew a bumper 39,115 attendance. Photograph: Ken Sutton/Inpho

Increase driven by Munster while crowds in Leinster so far slightly down

Tyrone’s Matthew Donnelly is tackled by Donegal’s Hugh McFadden during their Ulster SFC clash. Photo: Evan Logan/Inpho

Armagh All-Ireland winner full or praise for exciting and varied Ulster championship

Marty Morrissey with former RTÉ Gaelic games commentator Michéal O Muircheartaigh   at the opening of the new exhibition in the GAA Museum ‘Tuning In – From Wireless to WiFi’ at Croke Park. Photograph: Eoin Noonan/Sportsfile

A new exhibition in the GAA Museum celebrates the broadcasting of Gaelic games

Cork’s Alan Cadogan comes under pressure from Clare’s David McInerney during the Munster championship clash at Ennis. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Emulating Saturday’s epic Leinster climax proved impossible in Munster

Limerick’s Kyle Hayes battles with  Tipperary’s Ronan Maher  during the Munster SHC round-robin game at Semple Stadium. Photograph: Ken Sutton/Inpho

Tipp will face Limerick again in the Munster final but Barrett and Maher injuries a worry

Tipperary’s Brendan Maher and John O’Dwyer celebrate the comprehensive victory over Clare at Cusack Park  which seemed to derail the Banner’s campaign. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Cork and Tipperary look on course for a Munster final clash

Galway’s Damien Comer (right) comes under pressure from Kildare’s Fergal Conway in the All-Ireland football championship quarter-final last year.  Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Connacht champions are playing a record fourth final in a row against Roscommon

Kilkenny’s TJ Reid and Galway’s Johnny Coen in action during last week’s Leinster championship clash at  Nowlan Park. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Kilkenny and Galway have what it takes to make another Leinster final

Dan Morrissey returns to the Limerick side for Sunday’s Munster round-robin hurling match against Tipperary. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

James Barry and Seán O’Brien return to Tipp full-back line

All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Quarter-Final Phase 2, St. Conleth's Park, Newbridge, Co. Kildare 22/7/2018Kildare vs GalwayKildare's Fergal Conway with Damien Comer of GalwayMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Injured team captain confined to a watching brief for Connacht final against Roscommon

Tyrone’s Mattie Donnelly and Donegal’s Hugh McFadden in action during the Ulster semi-final at Kingspan Breffni Park.  Photograph: Evan Logan/Inpho

Absorbing Ulster tie provided a watershed moment for this year’s championship

The Mayo senior football team that won the 1951 All-Ireland senior football title against Meath at Croke Park. Pádraig Carney is five in from the right in the front row. Photograph:  The Mayo News

‘The Flying Doctor’ was part of the most recent Mayo team to win Sam Maguire

Kilkenny’s Huw Lawlor tries to block Conor Whelan of Galway. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Five goals, three red cards and a first defeat for Kilkenny leaves Leinster in melting pot

Kildare’s Tommy Moolick shakes hands with Patrick Fox of Longford after the victory in the quarter-final replay at Tullamore. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Lilywhites facing an unenviable assignment as they bid to halt Dublin juggernaut

Tyrone’s Matthew Donnelly will be in action against Donegal in the Ulster SFC semi-final at Clones on Saturday. Photograph: Lorcan Doherty/Inpho

Leinster and Ulster semi-finals down for decision and the first of qualifiers

Kilkenny’s Adrian Mullen in action against Carlow. Photograph: Ken Sutton/Inpho

Kilkenny’s 100% record will be tested by Galway at Nowlan Park on Sunday

Ned Wheeler receiving his lifetime achievement award from the GPA

Member of the legendary team that broke through in 1955

Laois native became a key part of the celebrated Wexford sides of the 1950s and ’60s

Dublin’s Paul Mannion after being sent off against Louth. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

The All Star forward was sent off in the 26th minute of the quarter-final against Louth

Waterford’s Jack Prendergast with William O’Donoghue of Limerick during the clash at Walsh Park. Limerick finished third in Munster last year but went on to win the All-Ireland for the first time in 45 years. Photograph: Oisín Keniry/Inpho

A less absorbing second season doesn't mean round-robin format hasn't long-term value

Limerick manager John Kiely shakes hands with Waterford manager Paraic Fanning after the game at Walsh Park. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Former coach says recent setbacks won’t undo two decades of Déise progress

John Kiely: “Overall, the whole attitude of what we were about today was much better.” Photograph: Oisín Keniry/Inpho

Limerick boss Kiely pleased to see a return to better form by All-Ireland champions

Limerick’s Gearóid Hegarty is tackled by Mikey Kearney during the Munster senior hurling championship clash at Walsh Park. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

All-Ireland champions won as they pleased in a one-sided second half at Walsh Park

Mickey Graham celebrates Cavan’s win over Monaghan. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Cork and Kerry can advance to the Munster final while Longford and Kildare go again

Cork’s Eoin Cadogan and Sean O’Donoghue with Limerick’s Aaron Gillane  during the recent Munster championship clash when Cork  tuned the tables on their All-Ireland semi-final conquerors in emphatic fashion. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Champions will need to clear their head quickly to prevail in Waterford

 Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh returns to the starting Waterford line-up for the key home clash with All-Ireland champions Limerick. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Limerick to bounce back against Déise while Dublin can overcome Carlow threat

Mayo’s Andy Moran during their Connacht SFC semi-final loss to Roscommon at McHale Park last Saturday. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Mayo player agrees to keep going at 35 and bring county back to All-Ireland contention

Bernard Brogan: “For me, it’s a very personal journey now and trying to see can I get back up to the level, to add value.” Photograph: Ken Sutton/Inpho

Now 35, the 2010 Footballer of the Year says he is in the best shape of his career

Damien Comer is set to miss the Connacht SFC final against Roscommon. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Provincial showdown with Roscommon on June 16th had been Comer’s return date

Paul Taylor: the Sligo manager,  after a grim year on the field,  succeeded  at the ballot box, getting returned for Fianna Fáil and securing the biggest vote on the incoming council.  Photograph: Evan Logan/Inpho

Some familiar concerns and other coincidences from May 1969

Dublin’s Ciaran Kilkenny with Louth’s Fergal Donohue during the Leinster championship clash at O’Moore Park, Portlaoise. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Louth overwhelmed as champions’ attack clicks and O’Carroll makes his comeback

Dublin’s Paddy Small celebrates a goal with Brian Fenton. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Champions reduced to 14 after early Paul Mannion red as Rory O’Carroll returns

Brian Fenton celebrates after Dublin’s victory over Tyrone last September which sealed the four-in-a-row for the reigning All-Ireland champions.  Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Player of the Year has had a massive impact and is yet to lose a championship game

Wexford full back Liam Ryan. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Davy Fitzgerald’s side face tough trip to Salthill to face Leinster champions

Tyrone’s Stephen O’Neill and Antrim’s Tony Scullion during the Ulster  Championship final in 2009. Photograph: Presseye/Russell Pritchard

‘In the North the soccer stadium’s been built, the rugby stadium’s been built, but the GAA hasn’t’

Offaly manager Kevin Martin with his team at Bord na Mona O’Connor Park, Tullamore,  earlier this year. Martin has handled all of the adversity visited on the team with admirable poise. Photograph: James Crombie/©INPHO

Kevin Martin may have reached the end of the road but he was treading an impossible path

Aidan Walsh celebrates Cork’s win over Limerick. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

All-Ireland champions haven’t beaten Rebels in normal time in their last four meetings

 Kevin Martin: his  term as Offaly manager  began  positively with a big win over Dublin in Croke Park at the start of the 2018 hurling league,  but deteriorated from then. Photograph: Tom O’Hanlon/Inpho

Concerns over the county's ability to stay in the McDonagh Cup prompted decision

Cork’s Aidan Walsh and Shane Kingston contest for the ball with Richie English and Dan Morrissey of Limerick. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Munster champions made big improvements in unexpected raid on Gaelic Grounds

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