They don't do hyperbole in Kilkenny.

Walter Walsh made his senior inter-county bow in the 2012 All-Ireland hurling final replay, having been a substitute throughout that summer.

The former underage rugby player - a team-mate of Tadhg Furlong at New Ross - scored 1-03 and won the man of the match award for his efforts in the victory over Galway.

"It wasn't a bad debut," he admits with a smile in an interview with RTÉ GAA Correspondent Marty Morrissey.

"We had just lost to Clare in the U21 final two weeks prior to that, so it was definitely a great way to get over the disappointment of that loss.

"I was lucky enough to get the start at No 14 for that game. It was my first game ever playing with Kilkenny so it was a bit of a shock. We won anyway, thankfully."

Seven years later and Walsh, now 28, is preparing for his fifth final and first since 2016. The loss that year to Tipperary was the only time he has experienced defeat on the big day and the fact that the Premier men are the opposition again on Sunday helps to sharpen the focus.

"You begin to think will you be back there again? It's great to get to an All-Ireland final and we’re all really looking forward to it.

"You don't need much motivation against Tipperary. They are our biggest rivals over the last number of years. You don’t need anything to motivate you and I’m sure they don’t need anything to motivate them either.

"There is a healthy rivalry there. You are aware of that. But as soon as you go out onto the field, it will just be like any other game."

Walsh scored 0-02 against Limerick

Kilkenny are back in the final thanks to a typically tigerish display against reigning champions Limerick in the last four.

Walsh expects they will have to match that level of performance against Tipp but is confident the Cats can get the job done.

"Out work-rate was really up and we really wanted to beat Limerick," he says. "They beat us last year, knocked us out of the Championship and went on to win it.

"It was an All-Ireland semi-final but we wanted to prove a lot of people wrong as well. We used all those things to drive us on.

"I can imagine the opening 15/20 minutes will be like Limerick, really tough, hard-working and a lot of big hits going in.

"We won't get anything easy, we know that, but you have to think you’re going to win this game. Tipperary are an excellent team so we will have to be on top form if we’re going to win.

"I think it will be really close and whoever turns up on the day will go on and win it."

Adrian Mullen scored 0-04 from play against Limerick

The 15 players manager Brian Cody started against Limerick included six who have never played in an All-Ireland final: full-back Huw Lawlor, wing-back Paddy Deegan, midfielders Richie Leahy and Conor Browne, wing-forward John Donnelly and corner-forward Adrian Mullen. 

Throw in replacements Bill Sheehan, Billy Ryan and James Maher (an unused sub in 2016) and that figure becomes nine out of 20, an unusually high proportion for the county that have dominated hurling over the past two decades.

"There's a nice blend between experience and youth," agrees Walsh, now one of the older members of the panel. "There are some excellent young players coming in there.

"The likes of Conor Browne, Richie Leahy, Adrian Mullen, are really taking their chance and doing very well. They keep you on your toes.

"They are just waiting to get their chance so it makes you try that bit harder to keep your place.

"There's massive competition and we'll be waiting to see what the team is."

Follow the All-Ireland hurling final between Kilkenny and Tipperary (Sunday 3.30pm) via our live blogs on RTÉ.ie and the News Now app, watch live on RTÉ2 or listen to radio commentary on RTÉ Radio 1 and RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta