The Tony Considine column: Dr Con is a great figure in Cork and national GAA

The Tony Considine column: Dr Con is a great figure in Cork and national GAA
UCC boss Billy Morgan and Dr Con Murphy after the Sigerson win this year. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

BEFORE I write about the semi-finals at the weekend, I would like to refer back to Cork and Kilkenny. 

There were a lot of very disappointed Cork supporters after. Rightly so, everyone loves to win, but Cork weren't beaten by a third-rate team, they were beaten by a top hurling county with tradition every bit as good as Cork. 

And in a very sporting game, as previous Cork-Kilkenny games have always been.

That is why I was amazed that a writer would think Dr Con Murphy should not have been seen shaking hands with Brian Cody after. If you understand sport, and hurling in particular, you know that when the game is over that's what you do. 

To blame Dr Con Murphy for doing the right thing is wrong. Con is a brilliant servant of the GAA in Cork and country-wide for that matter, and is highly respected. He's very helpful to all people, gives of his time willingly, especially to all GAA people, and a professional to his fingertips. He wasn't the reason Cork lost the match, the same as, Dr Con would admit, he never wins a match for them either. He is a true gentleman and will continue to serve Cork GAA.

Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Now to the business this weekend. I have to say that its a bit of an insult to Limerick as the All-Ireland champions to play on a Saturday evening.

They should not be a curtain-raiser. They are the champions and should have been the main event.

I must say it's a long time since Kilkenny have been underdogs in two championship games in a row. If any county relishes this, they do. They will use it as a great motivating factor.

I'd say there won't be much air to breathe here, from corner-forward back they will mark tightly all over the field. They will make every ball a contest. 

They will want to break ball to the ground as often as possible and will surround Limerick players at every opportunity. And they will try to use their innate skill, which they have plenty of, to put Limerick on the back foot.

They will especially target the Limerick defenders and the centre of the Limerick defence. I'm sure Declan Hannon and Mike Casey won't get as much time on the ball as they got in the Munster final. The movement of the Limerick backs creates space further up the field for Aaron Gillane and Graeme Mulcahy. 

That two-man full-forward line get acres of space by the Limerick half-forward line withdrawing, especially Tom Morrissey and Gearóid Hegarty. I'm sure Paddy Deegan and Conor Fogarty will follow these two guys all over Croke Park.

I can see Joey Holden starting at centre-back for Kilkenny and holding. I can also see Padraig Walsh starting on Gillane, which should be a great contest with Paul Murphy picking up Mulcahy, also vital.

Midfield will be crucial as well, with Cian Lynch the main player here for Limerick. Don't be surprised to see Walter Walsh and TJ Reid out around the middle of the field with Richie Leahy and Kyle Hayes and William O'Donoghue of Limerick. A lot of heavy goods vehicles around this area, won't be easy to get through the traffic here. 

We may even see TJ going to full-forward at some stage and that could be a danger for Limerick.

This is going to be a fascinating contest with fierce physical exchanges. Both teams are well able to chalk up big scores but both can concede big scores too.

Kilkenny are waiting a year for this chance against Limerick. They were unlucky last year when a few bad refereeing decisions went against them.

Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo
Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Limerick are favourites and rightly so, but as I said before Kilkenny love being the underdogs, it always seems to bring that extra bit out of them.

I'm going with them to win this one, after a cracker.

To the other game, Tipperary versus Wexford. Wexford are the only undefeated team left in the championship. 

This is a great chance for them and one thing for sure for the weekend, they will bring the biggest following to Croke Park. They are undoubtedly one of the best-supported teams in the country, and while that is an advantage, there are none of them on the field!

What I like about Wexford this year is, they are playing with more consistency and a bit more direct at times as well. In Liam Ryan, Mathew O'Hanlon, Kevin Foley, Conor McDonald, Lee Chin and especially Diarmuid O'Keeffe, who to me, has been one of their best players this year, along with Rory O'Connor. 

They are the leaders for Wexford, as they showed in that Leinster final against Kilkenny, which was a huge win for them and a great confidence booster. They will need all that for Sunday, and more with it, because they are playing a Tipp team who have been very flat in their last two games, especially in the Munster final where they did not show up at all.

But this is a different day, All-Ireland semi-final. Tipperary usually perform in semi-finals. I'm expecting a big performance from them because that is what it's going to take. 

Picture: INPHO/James Crombie
Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

I expect the Mahers and Cathal Barrett to be a lot tighter in defence. Seamus Callanan, John O'Dwyer, John McGrath and Jason Forde, if they hit form, they will ask big questions of the Wexford defence.

Tipperary need to get their mojo back as they will be tested by a very physical aggressive Wexford. But I always feel that Tipperary won't be put out of it physically. You have got to be able to out-hurl them. 

And that can be very difficult at times.

Wexford have a chance but I believe the real Tipperary will turn up on Sunday, and if they do, they will win, despite a lack of pace in their defence.

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