Kilkenny manager Brian Cody thinks his team are “going better” than this time last year but insists he’s wary of a Limerick side eager to atone for All-Ireland semi-final heartbreak.
The 2013 Munster champions lost to eventual winners Clare at the penultimate stage last season but have the opportunity to go one better and reach their first final since 2007 when they face the Cats at Croke Park on Sunday (Live on RTÉ Two from 2.30pm).
The Treaty men have performed well this summer, beating Tipperary and rebounding from their Munster final reversal to Cork with a comprehensive quarter-final dismissal of surprise package Wexford.
“Limerick are a huge challenge for us. They are an excellent team,” Cody told RTÉ Sport.
“They have experience. They have youth. They have great fitness and strength. They’re physically strong but also very skilful.
“All over the field they’re impressive. I’m not just blowing them up, that’s what they are. They were last year too, as they proved as Munster champions.
“They would have been disappointed with their performance in the All-Ireland semi-final and there’ll be a serious mettle there to ensure that doesn’t happen again.
“That’s what makes them even more dangerous.”
Kilkenny have been in impressive form themselves, swatting Dublin aside in the Leinster final.
Ominously for their remaining championship rivals, Cody feels like they are hitting top gear and have improved significantly compare to last summer, when they were knocked out by Cork at the quarter-final stage.
“Last year we didn’t play as we would have liked to. There was no fluidity or flow to our game,” he said.
“The genuineness was there, the honesty was there, and we dug out a couple of great wins in the championship, through sheer refusal to lie down in lots of ways, but we weren’t flowing. That happens and it happened to us last year.
“I’d say we’re going better this year. We won the league this year and last year but I did say at the end of the league that we were probably ahead of we were 12 months previously.
“The challenge is to try and make further progression for the semi-final because if we don’t we won’t be good enough to win it.”