Ea­monn Donoghue

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - CHAMPIONSHIP 2018 HURLING -

The qual­ity of hurl­ing is im­prov­ing year-on-year and more games will add to that im­prove­ment. But as a neu­tral there’s a fa­mil­iar­ity that dulls the ex­cite­ment, and this won’t help in that re­gard. It’ll also lessen the chances of a sur­prise pack­age claim­ing pro­vin­cial glory. Kilkenny never went away. They’ve made some tac­ti­cal tweaks and showed that when it goes to the wire they still have it over most teams. The likes of Gal­way and Tipp will hope that they will come in fresher for an ex­tended cham­pi­onship.

Sea­mus Cal­lanan . He should have won it in 2016 and if Tipp do as well as I ex­pect them to this year, a fully fit Cal­lanan will again be at the heart of it all. This year’s cham­pi­onship will cer­tainly change things, re­quir­ing teams to peak for longer. Based on that Lim­er­ick could cause a few up­sets. Con­sis­tency re­mains their big­gest chal­lenge. Back­ing any­body but Kilkenny is never wise, but on their day Tip­per­ary re­main the best team. Get­ting their key play­ers fit and fir­ing will be es­sen­tial.

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