SUNDAY 18 AUGUST

All-Ireland SHC final
Kilkenny v Tipperary, Croke Park, 3.30pm

Online
Live blog on RTÉ.ie and on the RTÉ News Now app from 11.30am.

Radio
Live commentary on Sunday Sport, RTÉ Radio 1 from Pauric Lodge and John Mullane. Analysis from Tomás Mulcahy and Brian Carroll. Also live on Spórt an LaeRTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta. 

TV
The Sunday Game Live
from 2pm on RTÉ 2 will have commentary from Marty Morrissey and Michael Duignan and analysis from Anthony Daly, Donal Óg Cusack and Henry Shefflin. Live coverage also on Sky Sports Arena from 2.30pm and GAAGO which will carry the action to viewers around the world.

For more on how to watch the All-Ireland worldwide, click HERE.

Highlights of all the weekend's hurling and camogie action, including the Hurling Team of the Year announcement on The Sunday Game, RTÉ2 and the RTÉ Player from 9.30pm. Joining Des Cahill on the panel will be Brendan Cummins, Derek McGrath, Jackie Tyrrell, Ursula Jacob, Cyril Farrell, Graham Mulcahy and Enda Rowland. 

WEATHER
Cool and showery with moderate to fresh and gusty southwest winds, with winds strong along coasts. Some of the showers heavy and prolonged with the odd thundery one possible especially in parts of the west and northwest. There will be some sunny spells between the showers, so hopefully Croke Park will get the best of those. Highest temperatures 16 to 18 Celsius. For more go to met.ie.

They never went away

Kilkenny and Tipperary will meet on hurling's biggest day for the 21st time 

And so it's down to the final pairing and an unlikely one at that.

Now Frank Drebin said in 'The Naked Gun': "Surely you can't be serious". Well, we are, for a fair few would not have predicted that these age-old rivals would have reached this August decider.

Tipperary, most felt, would have a much better summer than 2018. That indeed was the case, but we feared for their well-being after the Munster final trimming at the the hands of Limerick.

Kilkenny are not the all-conquering force they once were, and with injuries to contend to with and new faces introduced, would they even survive the bear pit of the Leinster round-robin? That they did, but they subsequently found Wexford just too good in the provincial decider.

On 30 June, it was a case of more questions than answers for the sides managed by Cody and Sheedy.

The All-Ireland series offered a shot at redemption and boy did they both take aim with telling effect.

Tipp finished strongly to beat Wexford in the semi

For Tipp, after a routine win over Laois, the nature of their semi-final win win over Wexford when it appeared the tide was very much against them, was most pleasing.

A few spiteful barbs that the Premier had too many old legs and lacked depth on the bench was batted back as old stagers Brendan Maher (30) and Noel McGrath (29) and then substitutes Ger Browne, Willie Connors, Mark Kehoe and Jake Morris all got vital scores to reel in Davy's men.

As for the Cats, not even Pat Horgan's scoring heroics could halt their second-half surge in the quarter-final.

TJ Reid celebrates the victory over Limerick

And so to a date with Limerick. Cody's men were fastest out of a traps and were more willing to put their bodies on the line. Yes, there was that debate over the '65 that never was right at the death that could brought about extra time. The Cats' victory was deserved.

So many stats 

Familiar foes are final bound again. Between them they have 63 All-Ireland titles - Kilkenny were last victorious in 2015, Tipp's previous title came a year later.

Between the pair they have played 20 finals up to now, with the Premier leading 11-8, with one draw. 

In all, Kilkenny have reached 66 finals, winning 36, losing 26 and drawing 4.

Tipperary have appeared in 41 deciders, winning 27, losing 12 and drawing 2.

The last competitive clash between the counties was a league meeting at Semple Stadium on 24 February, where the black and amber ran out 0-18 to 0-17 winners. 

James Owens is preparing for All-Ireland final number 3

This year's final referee, James Owens, will see the Wexfordman take charge of the showpiece fixture for a third time, having previously officiated in 2015 (Kilkenny v Galway) and 2018 (Galway v Limerick).

This is the first time since the 2013 final that neither the Leinster or Munster champions are in the decider - and also a first is the pairing of the beaten provincial finalists on hurling's biggest day. 

2019 top scorers so far

Kilkenny
TJ Reid (5-72)
Colin Fennelly (3-10) 
Walter Walsh (0-10)

Tipperary
Jason Forde (2-57)
Seamus Callanan (7-16)
Noel McGrath (1-19) 

Men at the helm

Brian Cody is looking to win a 12th All-Ireland title as Cats manager. As a player, he holds three Liam MacCarthy medals (1975, '82 and '83). He too over as Cats manager in the autumn of 1998.

In 2008 he was awarded the freedom of Kilkenny City. 

Here we have Mr Cody in action in front of the tv cameras with Marty Morrissey after the 2009 final against Tipperary. It's a run-of-the-mill stuff until Marty brings up the penalty that was awarded to Kilkenny.

Former Cat Andy Comerford on Cody the manager

"They say he must be a dogmatic person and a guy for who it is only black or white. That's miles away from the truth. He nourishes a player and gives players opportunities.

"He doesn't pull a lad to one side in training and say, 'I want you to do A, B and C'. Brian Cody doesn't bring that to the table."

In his first incarnation as Tipperary manager Liam Sheedy famously stopped Kilkenny's 'Drive For Five' in 2010 and in doing so bridged a 'nine-year famine' in the county for All-Ireland success.

On the field of play, the Portroe native was on the Tipp team that lost an All-Ireland final by a point to Clare in 1997.    

Due to work commitments, Sheedy stepped down as Tipp boss shortly after that triumph. However, he remained actively involved in the game through his work as a Sunday Game pundit and various advisory roles with club and county teams.

Last autumn he answered the call to return to the Premier post. He now stands 70 minutes away from making an instant impact in his second coming.

Former Tipp star Paddy Stapleton on Sheedy the manager

"A lot of the time he pushed over to the players what tactics to employ. My own opinion was he knew what tactics he wanted, but allowed the players to think of it for themselves."

Player watch

Pádraig Walsh - Kilkenny

It's certainly a case of not licking it off the ground for the Tullaroan player as he follows in the footsteps of his brother Tommy and grandfather Paddy Grace.

Put him in any defensive position or in midfield and he's not likely to let you down. He held Kyle Hayes scoreless in the semi-final and was among those Cats who stood up when they looked to be in trouble against Cork.

He also chips in with a vital score a two. Expect Walsh to be keeping close tabs on the likes Seamus Callanan and John O'Dwyer on Sunday.

Seamus Kennedy - Tipperary

The wing-back who returned to the Tipp side for the semi-final win over Wexford repaid the faith shown in him by Sheedy by turning in an accomplished display.   

Kennedy kept tabs on a number of players that day and it will be surprise if the doesn't this final as he looks to add to his winners medal from 2016. 

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