It is without a doubt that Kilkenny vs Tipperary has one of the fiercest rivalries in hurling. We have seen both teams perform at their best, and we have witnessed some terrific, pulsating games. The two old foes have faced off seven times in the championship this decade.
From those games, we have picked our best fifteen and in turn, we have created a combined Kilkenny/Tipperary XV from 2010 onwards.
1. Brendan Cummins
The Ardfinnan local made his debut in 1993 and enjoyed a 20-year inter-county career with Tipperary. Although Cummins was at his best in the naughties era, his performances throughout the 2010 calendar year were super-human. Those sublime performances throughout that year led Tipperary to All-Ireland glory for their first time since 2001. Cummins’ successor, Darren Gleeson, should count himself unlucky considering.
2. Cathal Barrett
Since making his senior hurling debut against Waterford in 2014, Barrett has been a model of consistency. Given the task to man-mark the talisman in almost every game, more often than not he comes out on top. At just 23 years of age, Barrett will remain one of the best at his job for a long while to come.
3. JJ Delaney
Eight-time All-Ireland medal winner, JJ Delaney is the first Kilkenny man to make this list. Like Barrett, his consistency, strength on the ball, and dominance in defence are the main reasons he makes this list. Since 2010, Delaney won three All-Irelands, three Leinster titles and three National Leagues before retiring from the sport in 2014.
4. Paul Murphy
Arguably, the 27-year-old Danesfort man has been Kilkenny’s most consistent hurler during recent times. It’s a rare occasion that Murphy has an off-day with the Cats. Murphy came to prominence on the Kilkenny team in 2011, and since then he’s won four All-Irelands while he also personally gained four All-Stars for his efforts.
5. Tommy Walsh
Tommy Walsh will go down in the history books as one of the greatest wing backs ever to grace the hurling field. The nine-time All-Ireland winner will be remembered for his versatility, his consistency and his ability to complete the basics and make them look wonderful. Walsh played a pivotal part in Kilkenny’s All-Ireland success in both 2010 and 2011. In an article from the Irish Independent in 2014, John Mullane stated that Walsh was a “freakish hurler” and “for such a small guy, he was so good in the air.” We won’t disagree.
Walsh hung up his boots with the Cats in 2014 after getting little game-time that calendar year.
6. Brian Hogan
Like Walsh, Hogan retired from the game in 2014. However, his achievements up to that year since 2010 with Kilkenny dictate that he’s deserving of his place on this team. Hogan won three All-Irelands, and he captained the team to victory in 2011.
His height and strength were his biggest assets on the field as he often effortlessly out-powered his opponents off the ball and in the air. However, Hogan’s distribution cannot be undermined, as he provided the forwards with quality passes as opposed to just clearing the ball as far as possible.
7. Padraic Maher
One could argue that Maher has been one of the best defenders in Ireland in recent times. At just 27, Paudie is now Tipperary captain and shows a huge desire and will to win when on the field. Maher’s exploits this year alongside his brother, Ronan were pivotal factors behind Tipperary’s All-Ireland success in 2016.
8. Michael Fennelly
Named Hurler of the Year in 2011, Fennelly’s presence on the field when in full flow is breath-taking. His strength, power, fitness and ability to break through a tackle is simply unbelievable.
Although he has struggled with injuries, undoubtedly he’s worth his place on this team and hopefully we will see him get back to his best with the black and amber.
9. Richie Hogan
There’s not one person in the world that could deny Richie Hogan his place on this team. Since moving from the inside forward line to midfield in 2014, Hogan has become a rejuvenated player under Brian Cody. His ability in the air, power on the ball, scoring prowess and sheer classiness are just some key characteristics of Hogan.
10. Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher
Bonner Maher is the hurler every manager dreams of possessing. He completes the dirty work, which includes the hassling, hooking, blocking, and everything else to deny the opposing defence an easy clearance.
In particular, his intensity and work-rate are the traits that make him stand out, yet often he appears on the end of the game scoresheet.
11. Henry Shefflin
2012 Hurler of The Year, Henry Shefflin, was never in doubt of making this list. Undoubtedly, he will go down in history as possibly the greatest and one of the most successful hurlers of all time. His exploits over teams in 2010, 2011, and 2012 in particular, put forward a strong argument as to why Shefflin has made this list.
He called a press conference to retire in 2015 after being on the receiving end of multiple dreaded ACL knee injuries coming towards the end of his career.
12. TJ Reid
The 29-year-old Ballyhale man has really stepped up his game since Shefflin’s retirement. His classy left-handed style of play and vision with the ball is truly spectacular.
Reid has become Kilkenny’s sharpshooter in recent years, taking up free-taking duty which he has made look easy even against all pressure. Eoin Larkin should count himself unlucky in this position though.
13. Colin Fennelly
Similar to Reid, Fennelly has really raised his game in recent seasons and has become one of the most dangerous inside forwards of the modern game.
His speed, power and eye for goal is a back’s worst nightmare. Aged just 27, Fennelly has received four All-Ireland medals since 2010 and was a major influence in Kilkenny’s championship campaigns.
14. Seamus Callanan
Like Richie Hogan, there was no fear of Seamus Callanan not making this list. He has been Tipperary’s best player over the past few seasons and has often caused major upset to his opposing teams.
Since moving to full forward, he has become a huge threat to the defence. His prolific scoring ability was highlighted in last year’s All-Ireland hurling final after he finished the game with a personal tally of nine points from play. The best forward in the game right now, no doubt.
15. Lar Corbett
A difficult position to choose that also caused a few arguments. However, we picked Lar Corbett due to his exploits in 2010, 2011 and 2012 with Tipperary and his club county championship achievements with Thurles Sarsfields.
He won the Senior Hurling Championship with Thurles Sarsfields in 2010, ’12, ’14, ’15 and ’16, which are incredible honours. His hat-trick against Kilkenny on the biggest stage will remain in Tipperary hearts and minds for a long time to come.
Notable mentions that didn’t make the team include:
Tipperary: Brendan Maher, Noel McGrath, Eoin Kelly, Darren Gleeson, Ronan Maher.
Kilkenny: Padraig Walsh, Richie Power, Cillian Buckley, Eoin Larkin, Joey Holden.
Jason Redmond, Pundit Arena.