The All Ireland football and hurling champions find themselves approaching major confrontations tomorrow from a rather similar standpoint.
While Kerry required a replay to overcome Cork in the Munster football semi-final and will now be without Paul Galvin for the provincial decider against Limerick, Kilkenny renew their rivalry with Galway in the Leinster hurling decider knowing they have yet to engage top gear.
But then it’s because these two superpowers have repeatedly shown they can tick all the right boxes when the big questions are being asked that they have retained their positions of eminence in their respective sports.
Kerry bring back Darren O’Sullivan and have Aidan Maher alongside Seamus Scanlon at midfield against a Limerick side managed by former Kingdom captain Mickey Ned O’Sullivan. Tomorrow, though, he will be Limerick through and through.
“I have been fortunate in a way that I have avoided Kerry over the last four years. But now I must deal with the situation and try not to think of the emotional side. I’m committed to Limerick and I’ve a job to do,” he says.
Last year Limerick went close against Cork in the decider and tomorrow they will be bidding to make up for that heartbreak.
“We didn’t have the necessary fresh legs to bring on in that game but I am very happy with the panel I have now,” he adds.
Veteran John Galvin and James O’Donovan will have their work cut out at midfield as they attempt to feed skillful forwards Ian Ryan, Seanie Buckley and Stephen Kelly. Meanwhile the Limerick defence must cope with ‘Gooch’ Cooper, Kieran Donaghy and Declan O’Sullivan.
While it’s 114 years since Limerick last won the Munster crown, success is the norm for Kilkenny.
Against Dublin in the Leinster semi-final Brian Cody’s side showed that they are beginning to put their indifferent National League form behind them and with Henry Shefflin having set a new championship scoring record (22 goals and 382 points) it’s unlikely that the team’s hunger for more scores is now satisfied.
Tomorrow Richie Power, Eddie Brennan, T J Reid and Richie Hogan will join Shefflin in the hunt for those scores against a Galway side for whom this will be a third big test in a fortnight.