The stage is set for the last of the big four finals on Sunday.

Kilkenny take on Cork in the Glen Dimplex Senior All-Ireland Championship decider (Live on RTÉ2 from 4pm) hoping to regain the crown they last won in 2020.

But the build-up in the county has been overshadowed a little by the departure of hurling's longest serving manager Brian Cody, who stepped away after 24 seasons in the hot seat.

Cats defender Claire Phelan was at the men's All-Ireland battling final defeat to Limerick - "we're hugely proud of them" - and his departure was announced shortly before the women's semi-final dethroning of Galway.

Phelan believes that the success of the county under Cody also helped to inspire a new generation of camogie players.

Kilkenny went seven years without contesting a final from 2002-2008 but have since appeared in eight of the last 13.

"We were surprised," the Lisdowney woman told RTÉ Sport. "Brian Cody made our childhoods for a lot of us, we got to experience September every year and All-Irelands nearly, which is something special.

"It's nearly why Kilkenny hurling and camogie is as good as it is, because young kids were growing up with that All-Ireland every year nearly, which was amazing.

"I know there is a good list of candidates there for it and I have no doubt the best man will be put in the job and hopefully will go on and do as good as Brian Cody did."

Cork edged Kilkenny in last year's semi-final

Only Kilkenny, Cork and Galway have appeared in a camogie decider over the last decade so the finalists are well acquainted.

The Rebels were one-point victors in last year's semi-final, the Cats had two to spare in the last four in 2020. Cork won the finals of 2017 and '18, Kilkenny in 2016.

"There have been plenty of them [meetings] over the last few years," said Phelan. "We’ve been on both sides of them so we know how easy they can slip away and how quick that game actually goes by.

"You really have to be tuned in and concentrating on the game and just have ourselves ready and in the best possible shape that you can be.

"I had my first championship in 2011 with Ann Downey, so I'm around a good while I suppose. We’ve met Cork loads of times in between that, there have been good days and bad days but it’s all part of a journey.

"I think as you get older you start to enjoy it more and realise how special a thing it is to be in a group like that. Hopefully we’ll have another day to remember.

"We're just delighted to be there. There was a lot thrown at us this year between injuries and players leaving and whatever else along with that. So it just meant a lot."

Aoife Norris (L), Kellyann Doyle (C) and Aoife Doyle pictured after winning the 2021 league final

Kilkenny have had to battle without sisters Kellyann and Aoife Doyle, who both suffered season-ending cruciate ligament damage.

For Kellyann, it was her third time suffering the long-term injury, aged just 23.

"Blow after blow," said Phelan. "You'd just be devastated for them, the amount they put into it.

"She [Kellyann] did hers earlier in the year against Cork. And then Aoife the same against Limerick. It's hugely tough on them but they’re brilliant, they’re at every training, they’re on the bus, they’re tipping around still and it does make a difference to have them there, chatting away to girls.

"Laura Norris as well, she’s had a foot injury, it’s ongoing, but still she’s back now, running every night, she’s doing everything she can to get back.

"You can see how much it means to them. We have the opportunity to get out on the pitch and play so we’ll do what we can because they’d love to have the opportunity as well.

"That was our goal at the start of the year, we wanted to get to an All-Ireland and to do it was great. And it was great to have family and friends there. Because of Covid the last few years, it just wasn’t the same."

Watch the All-Ireland camogie finals this Sunday from 11.45am on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player, listen live on RTÉ Radio 1's Sunday Sport and follow our live blog on RTÉ Sport Online and the RTÉ News app

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