We have a huge game in prospect this Sunday in the Gaelic Grounds with defending champions Tipperary aiming to retain their Munster hurling crown and win it for the 42nd time against an improving and energetic Waterford team, seeking their 10th title.
In order to analyse this game one has to look back at recent championship meetings between the two sides and it does not make for good reading for the Déise men.
This will be their fifth final meeting in eight years and the premier county have been victorious in all four recent finals - the most recent being last year on a scoreline of 0-21 to 0-16.
"As regards predicting the outcome, we know a few things for certain. Both teams will turn up and perform..."
Waterford were victorious in Munster finals in 2007 and in 2010 against Cork when a number of the current team lined out; such as Noel Connors, Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh, Kevin Moran and Maurice Shanahan, who came on as a sub that day.
The vast majority of Derek McGrath’s team have yet to win a Munster championship and they will be very determined on Sunday to achieve that.
All the recent finals between the two were played in either Thurles or Cork and Waterford will hope the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick proves a happier hunting ground.
Tipp have a very good blend of experience and youth. The team is backboned by Michael Cahill, the three Mahers (Padraic, Brendan and Patrick ‘Bonnar’), Noel McGrath and Seamus Callanan, all of whom played against the Cats in those great All-Ireland finals in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2014.
They have in more recent times discovered some excellent younger players such as Cathal Barrett, James Barry, Ronan Maher, Michael Breen and John O'Dwyer, who are driving the team onwards.
Without being overly impressive, they went about their business in an efficient manner and had good wins over both Cork and Limerick, a game in which they played with 14 men after the early dismissal of John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer on a straight red card.
He will be a major loss in this game, for if Tipp have a weakness it is in their forward division. O’Dwyer was the difference between the two teams last year with his ability to score three points from tight angles with little space, plus two long-range frees on a day when Seamus Callanan was held scoreless from play.
Michael Ryan appears to be instilling a mental and physical toughness to the Tipp team this year and you get the feeling that for himself and a lot of the team that this is a real 'get off the pot' year. It’s 2010 since their last victory and the core of the team are not getting any younger. I expect a hugely determined effort from them this Sunday.
Waterford are having a good season and were very unlucky to lose the Division 1 league final replay but it may have been a blessing in disguise as they exacted sweet revenge on Clare in the Munster semi, running out comfortable winners on a scoreline of 1-21 to 0-17 in a poor game - not that it will bother the Déise.
Derek McGrath has a great blend of experience and youth in his team and they are all very good ball players who play to a system that allows opposing teams very little room up front. They are without doubt an improved team from last year.
Their backline and midfield players are stronger and more experienced and are led by Noel Connors, Tadhg de Búrca and Kevin Moran. It’s up front that they have improved most, with the flying Shane Bennett and Patrick Curran both playing very well.
The return of Pauric Mahony is also a huge boost and it is great to see him back playing. Maurice Shanahan is a handful for any defender.
The deployment of Austin Gleeson up front against Clare was a masterstroke by McGrath as he chipped in with five points from play on the day. They will need him up front and on song again on Sunday. There should be some battle between him and Cathal Barrett.
As regards predicting the outcome, we know a few things for certain. Both teams will turn up and perform and the game may not be attractive to watch with a lot of crowding in the middle third of the field.
Short to medium-distance puck outs will also be a big feature as will the player match-ups. Those involved will be mindful of the need to be patient as they were in the 2015 final and keep their shape.
The result will be decided by who wins the majority of the individual battles and when I reviewed the probable match ups it was all square with four wins for Tipp, four for Waterford and seven to break even.
Waterford look to be the form team and are extremely well balanced but I have a slight fancy for Tipp to come through on the day.
They have the more experienced players and have suffered big disappointments in recent years at All-Ireland level and I think they are a team on a mission and will be extremely determined and hard to beat.
They are also more likely to be the fresher team on the day having exited the league earlier than Waterford.