Colin Fennelly has been in great form in the Kilkenny attack
Will the All-Ireland senior hurling final be a face-off featuring three of hurling’s deadliest strikers?
That’s the mouth-watering prospect fans can savour as Kilkenny and Tipperary square up to each for what promises to be an entertaining encounter.
For the Cats, captain TJ Reid has been the driving force in their charge for a 37th senior All-Ireland title.
The Shamrocks man, who has led Ballyhale to club glory on St Patrick’s Day, has been the scorer in chief for Brian Cody’s man after hitting 5-72 in the championship.
However, in the blue corner, Tipperary have their own dangermen. Jason Forde leads the way in terms of scoring for the Premier County - so far he has helped himself to 2-583.
Captain Seamus Callanan is no slouch, as he has amassed 7-16 this year, scoring a goal in each of Tipperary’s championship games on their way to the final.
And should the top three become shot-shy, expect others to step up to the mark. Kilkenny have had 21 different scorers in championship hurling this year - as well as several backs, both goalkeepers (Eoin Murphy and Darren Brennan) used this year have added their names to the scoresheet!
Eighteen different players have been on target for Tipp this year, among them Jake Morris, who lit up the under-20 championship.
Leinster SHC Round 1
Kilkenny made a winning start to their Leinster Championship, but had to work hard to see off Dublin.
Six points down after 28 minutes, the Cats did what they’ve done so often in the past – rolled their sleeves up and got on with the job.
Kilkenny Scorers: TJ Reid (2-12, 1-0 pen, 0-11 frees, 0-1 65); Alan Murphy (0-3); Ger Aylward, Richie Leahy (0-2 each); Adrian Mullen, Walter Walsh, Tommy Walsh, Padraig Walsh (0-1 each).
Leinster SHC Round 2
The round two game against Carlow was almost over before it began. Colin Fennelly found the net with just 18 seconds on the clock - Kilkenny never looked back from there.
The Cats hit 15 wides in the game, 13 in the first half, but still scored a comprehensive win in which they never had to get out of second gear.
Kilkenny Scorers: TJ Reid (1-12, 1-0 pen, 0-8 frees, 0-1 65); Colin Fennelly, Ger Aylward (1-1 each); John Donnelly, Alan Murphy (0-2 each); Richie Leahy, Walter Walsh, Adrian Mullen, Billy Ryan (0-1 each).
Leinster SHC Round Three
This was a thriller in the Park! Kilkenny ended the tussle with 13 men, Galway with 14, in a game where the visitors looked comfortable when six points clear with 10 minutes remaining, but five unanswered points saw Brian Cody’s side run the Tribesmen agonisingly close.
Kilkenny Scorers: TJ Reid (2-11, 0-6 frees, 0-1 65); Billy Ryan (0-3); Richie Leahy, Bill Sheehan (0-2 each); Alan Murphy, Colin Fennelly, Paddy Deegan, Darren Brennan (0-1 each).
Leinster SHC Round Five
A last-gasp Lee Chin free saw Wexford rescue a draw at the death, but with Dublin beating Galway both sides were smiling at the end as they looked forward to a repeat meeting in the Leinster final.
Kilkenny Scorers: TJ Reid (0-7, frees); Adrian Mullen (1-3); Colin Fennelly (0-2); Conor Fogarty, Paddy Deegan, Walter Walsh, Paul Murphy, Joey Holden, Pádraig Walsh (0-1 each).
Leinster SHC final
A game which swung back and forth all afternoon was finally settled when goalkeeper Mark Fanning’s late penalty saw Wexford end a 15-year wait for provincial glory.
Kilkenny Scorers: TJ Reid (0-12, 0-5 frees, 0-3 65); Adrian Mullan (0-3); Walter Walsh, Colin Fennelly (0-2 each); James Maher, Alan Murphy, Ger Aylward, Eoin Murphy (0-1 each).
All-Ireland SHC Quarter-Final
A powerful second-half performance helped Kilkenny see off Cork and secure a semi-final place.
Trailing by two points at half-time, Brian Cody’s side showed steel and quality to catch Cork and put them away. Eight unanswered points between the 40th and 52nd minutes did the trick, shooting the Cats into a semi-final showdown with Limerick.
Kilkenny Scorers: TJ Reid (0-10, 0-10 frees); Richie Hogan (1-2); Colin Fennelly (1-1); Walter Walsh (0-3); John Donnelly, Conor Fogarty, Billy Ryan (0-2 each); Conor Browne, Adrian Mullen, Richie Leahy, Eoin Murphy, Bill Sheehan (0-1 each).
All Ireland SHC Semi-Final
The Cats showed their pedigree as they dug deep to dethrone champions Limerick in a thrilling semi-final.
A lightning-fast start paved the way to victory for Kilkenny, who were glad of their early lead as they kept the Treatymen at bay by the bare minimum at the full-time whistle.
Limerick were over-run in the early stages, with Colin Fennelly's 17th minute goal hammering home Kilkenny's dominance.
Limerick shook themselves awake, outscoring their rivals for the remainder of the half, but it was Brian Cody’s side who led at the break (1-12 to 1-9).
The Cats worked hard throughout the second half, but a Shane Dowling goal and late point from David Reidy left them looking over their shoulder.
Their one-point lead was almost blown away when Reidy broke through on goal late on, but Eoin Murphy made a superb save to ensure Kilkenny stayed ahead - and booked their place in the final.
Kilkenny Scorers: TJ Reid (0-8, 0-7 frees, 0-1 65); Colin Fennelly (1-3); Adrian Mullen (0-4); Walter Walsh (0-2); Padraig Walsh, John Donnelly, Richie Hogan, James Maher (0-1 each).
Munster SHC Round One
Tipperary made a flying start to their Munster campaign using their experience to put Cork to the sword in Pairc Ui Chaoimh.
Tipperary had 11 different scorers from play, with Seamus Callanan (1-4) and John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer (0-7) the most threatening, Captain Callanan was a hugely valuable ball-winning presence in the Tipperary attack throughout.
Tipp Scorers: Seamus Callanan (1-4); John O’Dwyer (0-7); Jason Forde (0-5, 0-3 frees); John McGrath (1-1); Noel McGrath (0-4, 0-1 65); Brendan Maher (0-2); Ronan Maher, Paudie Maher, Niall O’Meara, Patrick Maher, Michael Breen (0-1 each).
Munster SHC Round Two
Being quick out of the blocks helped Tipperary make it two wins from two when they saw off Waterford in the second round of the Munster championship.
After leading by 0-16 to 0-10 at the break, the Premier County hit the gas in the second half. They outscored their rivals by 2-10 to 0-1 in the closing 16 minutes of the contest to race away to victory.
Tipp Scorers: Jason Forde (1-9, 0-2 frees, 0-1 65, 0-1 sideline); Michael Breen (0-6); John McGrath (0-5); John O’Dwyer (0-4); Seamus Callanan (1-0); Noel McGrath (0-2, 0-1 free); Ronan Maher (0-2, 0-1 free, 0-1 sideline); Barry Heffernan, Jake Morris (0-1 each).
Munster SHC Round Three
The winning run continued as Liam Sheedy’s side outclassed Clare in Ennis.
Tipp sprinted into a 1-14 to 0-11 interval lead, John McGrath and Seamus Callanan leading the way in attack. Clare continued to fight hard, but a quick second half burst of 2-2, the goals coming from Callanan and Patrick Maher, saw Tipp fashion a lead they would not lose.
Tipp Scorers: Seamus Callanan (1-3); John McGrath, Jason Forde (0-6 each); Noel McGrath, Patrick Maher (1-2 each); Brendan Maher, John O’Dwyer (0-1 each).
Munster SHC Round Five
Tipperary completed a perfect Munster Championship round-robin campaign by beating All-Ireland champions Limerick in the fifth and final round.
A late goal from Seamus Callanan settled the game, but injuries to Patrick Maher and Cathal Barrett took some of the gloss of the win.
Tipp Scorers: Jason Forde (0-8, 0-4 frees, 0-2 line balls); Seamus Callanan (1-4); Padraic Maher, John McGrath, Noel McGrath (0-2 each); Brendan Maher, Michael Breen, Jake Morris, John O’Dwyer (0-1 each).
Munster SHC final
There was revenge for Limerick as Tipp’s perfect season was derailed in a disappointing Munster final.
The game was in the melting pot for long spells, but a 55th minute Kyle Hayes put Limerick on the path to victory. They led by six at that stage, a lead they doubled as they finished with a flourish.
Tipp Scorers: Jason Forde (0-6); Seamus Callanan (1-1); John McGrath (1-0); Ronan Maher (0-2); Dan McCormack, John O’Dwyer, Jake Morris, Jerome Cahill, Noel McGrath (0-1 each).
All-Ireland SHC Quarter-final
There was no fairy tale for Laois as hot favourites Tipp sent the underdogs packing from the championship with plenty to spare.
First-half goals from Jason Forde (penalty) and Séamus Callanan looked to have set Tipp on their way to a comfortable victory but Laois hung in gamely, just four points adrift at half-time with the help of a Ross King goal in the 34th minute to cut the arrears to 2-11 to 1-10 at the break. But the sending off of Aaron Dunphy two minutes after the restart ended any chance of another upset.
Tipp Scorers: Jason Forde (1-12, 1-0 pen, 0-9 frees, 0-1 65); Seamus Callanan (1-2); Noel McGrath (0-3); Ronan Maher, Ger Browne, John McGrath (0-2 each); Paudie Maher, Barry Heffernan (0-1).
All-Ireland SHC semi-final
A never-say-die performance saw Tipperary book their place in the All-Ireland final.
Down to 14 men and five points behind with 20 minutes to go, things looked grim for the Premier County as Leinster champions Wexford surged toward the final.
However, Tipp dug deep. In the final 25 minutes they outscored their rivals by 0-12 to 1-2 to run out dramatic winners.
Tipp Scorers: Jason Forde (0-12, 0-8 frees, 0-2 65); Seamus Callanan (1-2); Noel McGrath (0-4); John O’Dwyer (0-3); Ronan Maher (0-2); Michael Breen, Ger Browne, Willie Connors, Mark Kehoe, Jake Morris (0-1 each).
Kilkenny: Played 7, Won 4, Drew 1, Lost 2
Biggest win: 14 points (Leinster championship: Kilkenny 3-22, Carlow 1-14)
Biggest loss: Three points (Leinster final: Wexford 1-23, Kilkenny 0-23)
Tipperary: Played 7, Won 6, Drew 0, Lost 1
Biggest win: Eighteen points (Munster championship; Tipp 2-30, Waterford 0-18)
Biggest loss: Twelve points (Munster final: Limerick 2-26, Tipp 2-14)
Top five scorers
Kilkenny: 1 TJ Reid (5-72); 2 Colin Fennelly (3-10); 3 Adrian Mullen (1-13); 4 Walter Walsh (0-10); 5 Alan Murphy (0-7), Ger Aylward (1-4).
Tipperary: 1 Jason Forde (2-58), 2 Seamus Callanan (7-16), 3 John McGrath (2-16), 4 Noel McGrath (1-18), 5 John O’Dwyer (0-17).
For more on Kilkenny People sport read here.