Michael Duignan is impressed with Kilkenny's rejuvenation this season but believes they might not have improved enough to beat Tipperary in Sunday's Allianz Hurling League final.

The old rivals meet in the decider for the first time since 2014 - the Premier County are looking to avoid a fifth consecutive defeat stretching back to 2003.

"I think Tipp need this win," the Offaly All-Ireland winner told RTÉ Sport. "They haven't won a league since 2008. 

"Tipperary look to be playing with a freedom and really enjoying their hurling.

"They have scored an average of 28 points in every match and conceded 24. They're going out and saying 'we'll outscore the opposition'."

Kilkenny endured their worst Championship season since 1996 last year, exiting in the qualifiers following defeats to Wexford and Waterford.

Some tipped them for relegation this year following opening defeats to Cork and Clare but Brian Cody's new-look side bounced back and are on course to deliver a ninth league title of his reign.

"I've been one of those people that had been saying that I thought it would take a year or two for Brian to build a new team," said Duignan.

"He's brought in an awful lot of new players. They lost their first two league matches, albeit narrowly, but one thing about Kilkenny is the spirit and will to win never dies.

"The way they've bounced back, with a lot of new faces, has been very impressive. Fair play to them."

Have your say on James McMahon's combined Kilkenny-Tipperary team from 2009-2018

Kilkenny were 2-22 to 2-21 victors when the sides met in a typically thrilling encounter in round four.

But the RTÉ analyst believes Tipperary have strengthened since that February clash.

"Looking at the league match, Kilkenny beat them by a point but both teams were missing key players that day.

"Kilkenny were missing the likes of Eoin Murphy, Padraig Walsh, John Donnelly, Ger Aylward.

"But Tipperary's best defender, Padraic Maher, wasn't playing that day, and their most influential forwards Jason Forde and John McGrath weren't playing.

"They have a great range of subs, with the likes of John O'Dwyer to come in.

"Their record in Nowlan Park is not good. They've lost their last 10 matches there.

"A lot of things point towards a Kilkenny win but I think Tipperary might have more scoring power and their forwards will just about sway it.

"It should be another brilliant game."

Follow Kilkenny v Tipperary with live blogs on RTÉ.ie/sport and the News Now App from 1pm, via Sunday Sport on RTÉ Radio 1, and League Sunday on RTÉ2 television at 9.30pm