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


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A scattering of morning showers but it will be mainly dry by the afternoon and it will brighten up with some nice spells of sunshine. Moderate to fresh and gusty westerly winds. Highest temperatures 18 to 20 degrees.

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Normality has been somewhat restored at Croke Park this weekend with a traditional (well, since 2018) summer hurling semi-final weekend.

24,000 fans were in attendance yesterday - the biggest crowd at an Irish sporting event since the start of the pandemic - will be again today as Kilkenny and Cork battle it out for a place in the final against Limerick in a fortnight's time.

Although it is still an Irish summer so those in the lower tiers might want to bring their ponchos.

Cats coming in quiet for Rebel rumpus

Kilkenny's TJ Reid battles with Mark Coleman and Sean O'Donoghue in the 2019 quarter-final

Despite easing to a second Leinster title in a row, it's hard to remember a Kilkenny team being so overlooked as All-Ireland contenders.

They shouldn't be. The trademark Brian Cody grit and perseverance till the end was on full display in the epic extra-time win over Wexford and they have adapted their tactics from going direct all the time to playing the ball around a bit more.

It's not quite Cork or Limerick's ultra focus on keeping possession but it does make them less predictable. And if the forecast heavy rain hits you would expect it to bother the men in stripes less.

Eoin Cody has taken some of the scoring burden off TJ's shoulders and they will be confident of outmuscling a very young Cork side.

"Maybe it's because Brian Cody has been there so long and they’ve been at such a high level that we have spoken about them so much, and the newer teams coming through now get more air-time," says Shefflin.

"They have some of the most skilful hurlers and one of the all-time greats in TJ Reid. That narrative is sometimes lost.

"There have been subtle changes in the way they’ve played. I think that has led to an improvement in their performances."

Cork bounced back from their Munster exit to Limerick with impressive wins over Clare and Dublin.

They beat the latter by eight points compared to Kilkenny's nine against a weaker, Covid-impacted version.

The Rebels have scored seven goals in three games, with young guns Shane Kingston (3-02 but left out of today's team) and Jack O'Connor (1-06) potent threats alongside the still outstanding veteran Patrick Horgan, who scored a hat-trick in defeat when the sides last met in the 2019 quarter-final.

"More so than any other team in the championship, Cork seem to have this thing that if the opportunity arises they are going to go for goal as often as they can," says former Limerick star Shane Dowling.

"Forwards know that they can now take the man on and that the backs can't pull them down - if they’re fouled the chances of getting a penalty are quite high. In previous years you knew you were going to be pulled down and would just get a point anyway.

"If Kilkenny can bring the physicality to it, like they did against Limerick two years ago, there’s only going to be one winner.

"But I don’t think it’s going to be that straightforward. Cork are the fastest team in the country and in Croke Park they can utilise that."

Read next: Jack is nimble, Jack is quick - Cork's young goal-getter O'Connor ready to fire

Cody has made three changes to the team that beat Dublin. Michael Carey comes in for hamstring injury victim Conor Browne at wing-back, Conor Fogarty is in for Richie Leahy in midfield and Alan Murphy gets the nod at corner-forward in place of Martin Keoghan.

Niall O'Leary and Luke Meade are both named to start for Cork after apparently shaking off injuries and the only change is Shane Barrett coming into the forwards in place of Shane Kingston - manager Kieran Kingston surprisingly dropping his son despite a third goal in as many championship games against the Dubs last week.

Cork are playing their third weekend on the trot while Kilkenny have had the same three-week break as Limerick.

The Munster men are aiming to end their three-match losing streak in semi-finals while Kilkenny are seeking a second final appearance in three years. Kilkenny won 16 of the 19 previous semis they reached under Brian Cody.

"Cork have that bit of resilience and steel that wasn’t there in 2018," says Shefflin. "They have improved.

"It's a short turnaround for Cork and Kilkenny are improving steadily. I think Kilkenny will have too much."

Kilkenny: Eoin Murphy; Tommy Walsh, Huw Lawlor, Paddy Deegan; James Maher, Padraig Walsh, Michael Carey; Conor Fogarty, Richie Reid; Adrian Mullen, John Donnelly, Billy Ryan; Eoin Cody, TJ Reid, Alan Murphy.

Subs: Darren Brennan, Joey Holden, Ciaran Wallace, Conor Delaney, Darragh Corcoran, Cillian Buckley, Martin Keoghan, Walter Walsh, James Bergin, Richie Hogan, Liam Blanchfield.

Cork: Patrick Collins; Niall O'Leary, Robert Downey, Sean O’Donoghue; Tim O’Mahony, Mark Coleman, Ger Millerick; Darragh Fitzgibbon, Luke Meade; Conor Cahalane, Seamus Harnedy, Robbie O’Flynn; Shane Barrett, Patrick Horgan, Jack O'Connor.

Subs: Ger Collins, Sean O’Leary Hayes, Colm Spillane, Eoin Cadogan, Niall Cashman, Damien Cahalane, Billy Hennessy, Shane Kingston, Alan Cadogan, Alan Connolly, Declan Dalton.

Follow the All-Ireland senior hurling championship semi-finals this weekend with our live blogs on RTÉ.ie/sport and the RTÉ News app.

Watch Limerick v Waterford live on RTÉ2 or RTÉ Player from 4pm Saturday, and Kilkenny v Cork live on RTÉ2 or RTÉ Player from 2.30pm Sunday.

Watch highlights of all the weekend's action on The Sunday Game at 9.30pm on RTÉ2.

Listen to live and exclusive national radio commentaries on RTÉ Radio 1's Saturday and Sunday Sport.