All-Ireland Hurling Final: By the numbers

Hegarty aiming to complete an amazing scoring sequence for the fourth year in a row

0 All-Ireland final appearances for Tom Phelan, the Kilkenny wing forward. He will be the only starter on either side who is playing in his first final. This will be the first final since 2011 with only one first-timer on the pitch at the start of the game – back then it was Tipperary’s John O’Keeffe. This only tends to happen when the same teams meet in back-to-back deciders.

1 This will be Derek Lyng’s first All-Ireland final as Kilkenny manager. Since the turn of the century, there have been 18 first-time managers in the decider. Only five of them have been on the winning side – Nicky English (2001), John Allen (’05), Micheal Ryan (’16), Micheál Donoghue (’17) and John Kiely (’18). Two of those – English and Donoghue – were against other first-time managers. No Kilkenny manager has won their first All-Ireland final since Pat Henderson and Eddie Keher were jointly in charge of the 1979 team.

1This will also be John Keenan’s first All-Ireland final as referee. He completes the full set of minor final (2016), under-21 final (’18), Leinster final (’21), Munster final (’22) and All-Ireland final (’23). The last Wicklow man to referee an All-Ireland final since Jimmy Hatton in 1970. (As a quick aside, Hatton was a legendary referee in both codes and took charge of the senior All-Ireland finals in both football and hurling in 1966. Imagine.)

3 All-Ireland finals in a row where Gearóid Hegarty has been the top scorer from play. He put up 1-5 last year, 2-2 the year before and 0-7 in 2020. Ben O’Connor and Henry Shefflin have managed to do it back-to-back in this century. Noel Lane did it in 1987/’88 and Christy Ring managed it in 1952/’53. But as far as we can make out (definitive info on scores from frees gets a bit sketchy the further back you go) Hegarty’s three-in-row stands alone.

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4 Sets of brothers between the two panels. For Limerick, there’s the Morrisseys (Dan and Tom) and the Caseys (Mike and Peter). For Kilkenny, there’s the Reids (Richie and TJ) and the Murphys (Eoin and Alan). Adrian Mullen’s brother Paddy is on the wider Kilkenny training squad but hasn’t made the 26.

5 Goals scored by Kilkenny forward Martin Keoghan in the 2023 championship. He goes into the final level with Tony Kelly as the season’s leading goalscorer. Séamus Flanagan and Eoin Cody both have four, Aaron Gillane has three.

6Points needed for TJ Reid to pass Galway’s Evan Niland at the top of the 2023 Championship scoring charts. Niland has 0-77 to his name this season, whereas Reid has put up 2-66. Surprisingly perhaps, Reid has only finished top scorer in a season twice before – 2019 and last year.

7 TJ’s lead at the top of the all-time scoring chart. His haul of 0-12 against Clare in the semi-final moved him on to 30-544 (634 points) in championship hurling. It took him past Patrick Horgan, who ended 2023 on 24-555 (627 points). The pair had swapped places once during the season over the course of a weekend back in May but this will be the first time Reid is able to put clear water between the pair.

9Goals scored by Limerick so far this summer. In seven championship seasons under John Kiely, they’ve only got into double figures for goals once – and even then, their total of 14 in 2018 was padded out somewhat by putting five past Carlow in a qualifier.

15 Amount of times Limerick and Kilkenny have met in the championship. Kilkenny have nine wins, Limerick have six. It’s a different story in finals, though – they’ve faced off in nine All-Ireland deciders, with Limerick 5-4 ahead going into Sunday.

17 Different scorers for Limerick in the championship in 2023.

22 Different scorers for Kilkenny in the championship in 2023.

24Players used by Limerick in the championship in 2023.

27 Players used by Kilkenny in the championship in 2023.

27Temperature in degrees at throw-in in last year’s final. This one is expected to be more like 18 and rain is also forecast. The last damp hurling final was in 2019, when a monsoon blew in during the first half – but even that brightened up eventually. So much for July.

32 Gap in years between the youngest player TJ Reid has played championship hurling alongside (Billy Drennan, born 2003) and the oldest (James McGarry, born 1971).

35 Limerick’s average points total in their last three All-Ireland finals. Kilkenny’s average in their last three finals is 26. No Kilkenny team has scored 30 points or more in a final since 2014.

1,457 Days since anyone beat Limerick in a knock-out championship game. That was, of course, Kilkenny, in the 2019 All-Ireland semi-final.

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin is a sports writer with The Irish Times