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Is Kieran McGeeney helping to make Tipp tick for Cats?

By Declan Bogue

Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney was remaining tight-lipped about his role within the Tipperary hurling set-up, ahead of their hurling final replay today against Kilkenny (Croke Park, throw-in 3.30pm).

Asked the nature of his involvement at the Croke Park launch of the Asian games, McGeeney said: "I just do things that Eamon (O'Shea, Tipp manager) asks me, whatever sort of level that is."

He avoided directly answering how often that might be, also, and added: "Just whatever he asks, I do."

However, when pushed to talk about his interest in the area of motivation and the pursuit of excellence, the 42-year-old comes alive. "I've done bits and pieces with business and I have players that I do work with as well in different sports. I enjoy it. It's just something that fascinates me, what makes people tick. I could read about it or talk about it all day.

"What is it in a particular situation because it is never the fastest, the strongest or the brightest that make it. There's something different there. You talk about natural talent but when you read about it there is no such thing."

It is a curious phenomenon, but McGeeney has moved into a realm where two other members of the Mullaghban and Armagh backline of his vintage have been operating for some time, in brothers Justin and – probably the most high-profile given his involvement with the Irish rugby team – Enda McNulty.

Tipp enter this replay encouraged by the way in which they sliced open Kilkenny for 29 scores in the original fixture.

However, they have to temper that with having to stage a late rally to claw back a small gap the Cats had clawed out as they went down the stretch.

Kilkenny manager Brian Cody has caused a minor, but not unexpected stir when he named his team without Walter Walsh, Joey Holden and Brian Hogan.

However even given the changes, there is no room for Henry Shefflin, with both men chasing their tenth Liam MacCarthy triumph together.

"Obviously there's huge media concentration on Henry because of the situation he is in, and because of what he has done over a very huge career," Cody accepted earlier in the week.

"But it's not about that for us, it never has been.

"The panel is there and we just work away as we always have done. There's not a pressure thing, from within, with regard to any player on the panel, whether he starts or doesn't."

Cody also accepts that the margins between the sides are minimal, reminding us that: "We played Tipperary in the league final this year and after 70 minutes it was a draw; we played an All-Ireland final this year and after 70 minutes it was a draw.

"Do I know they could beat us on a given day? I'm positively certain they could. I'm certain we could beat them too, there's nothing between both teams."

Although Cody has one trick in Shefflin. He only got five minutes in the drawn final. Expect him on earlier here.

Belfast Telegraph

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