Home GAA Eoin Larkin Column: Preparation Is Key For Hurling’s Biggest Game

Eoin Larkin Column: Preparation Is Key For Hurling’s Biggest Game

The build-up to an All-Ireland hurling final is special. You’re just looking forward to it more than anything. The nerves start setting in, you want to get rid of your ticket allocation as soon as possible and get that side of things sorted. All I wanted to do was concentrate on the match.

You want to enjoy it too but can’t be talking about it every minute of the day either.

GAA All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 4/9/2016 Kilkenny vs Tipperary A view of the Liam McCarthy Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Your first final is always going to be the toughest; I didn’t know what way I should be feeling. Should you be nervous? Should you be looking forward to it?

But you have to savour it – it’s an enjoyable day but it only becomes really enjoyable if you win it, and that’s the bottom line.

Going into a final, it’s more difficult to be favourites.

As underdogs, nobody is giving you a chance, all the talk is about the other team, you can plan away and there is no spotlight on you. Often, when you are underdogs, all you want to do is upset the odds and that can really steal your mind as well.

When you are going in as favourites, it is a lot harder to do that because everyone is saying ‘ye’ll win, ye’ll win – it should be a tough game, but ye should win’.

That’s tough to deal with as a team.

Preparation is key to get right. 2010 was perhaps the only time we lost sight of what we were doing. There was so much talk about Henry Shefflin and John Tennyson doing their cruciates – whether or not they would play. 8,000 or 9,000 came to our training before the final!

No-one really knew until the week before if Shefflin and Tennyson were going to play and that was tough to handle. At the time we thought we had a handle on it but looking back now, I think that was the only time we got the preparation wrong.

GAA All Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Final 5/9/2010 Kilkenny vs Tipperary Eoin Larkin and Eddie Brennan of KIlkenny dejected at the end of the game Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Looking at today’s game, Tadhg de Búrca’s return is huge. Darragh Fives did a great job the last day, but de Búrca will go back to sweeper.

If it’s not working with de Búrca they can also switch it back to Fives. I fully expect that they will deploy a sweeper.

GAA All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Semi-Final Replay, Semple Stadium, Tipperary 13/8/2016 Kilkenny vs Waterford Waterford's Tadhg de Burca Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Naming Jonathan Glynn in the team is a bold move. I know he is named to start, but I don’t expect him to.

He has been in and out, off the bench. He must be showing serious form over the last three weeks to get on for the All-Ireland final!

If it works out it will be great. If it doesn’t, Mícheal Donoghue will be slated for it.

At this point of the championship, managers have to make big decisions and stand by them.

It’s really tough match to call. I have been thinking hard about it over the last three weeks.

I just feel Waterford are coming good at the right time. If they can hold the Galway forwards in the first 20/25 minutes and don’t concede a goal and get ahead that way.

If the Déise fall behind and have to chase the game, would they be able to do it? Would they be able to push on?

If they get a couple of points up, I think they have the hunger to push on and hold out.

I’m going for a Waterford win, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it ended in a draw.

Waterford by a point or two.

About Eoin Larkin

Eoin Larkin
Eoin Larkin is a former inter-county hurler for Kilkenny. Playing with the Cats for twelve seasons the James Stephens clubman won ten Leinster titles, eight All-Ireland Hurling Championships and two All Star awards.

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