Fourteen former students of Waterford Institute of Technology will be involved in Sunday’s eagerly-awaited All-Ireland Hurling Final between champions Kilkenny and challengers Tipperary.
WIT alumni on the Cats panel are TJ Reid, Eoin Reid, John Dalton, Willie O’Dwyer, PJ Delaney, JJ Delaney; Michael Kavanagh, Derek Lyng and of course Henry Shefflin, winner of two Fitzgibbon Cups with the Institute.
The Waterford graduates within the Tipperary ranks number Premier county captain Willie Ryan, Brendan Cummins, Paul Curran (who was Fitzgibbon-winning skipper with WIT in 2003), Conor O’Brien, and Hugh Maloney, who won Fitzgibbons while here in ’03, ’04 and ’06 when he was joint-captain.
Ex-Waterford star Paul Flynn, now an analyst for RTÉ, says of the meeting between the country’s two form teams: “If the scoreline is as close as [the League final in] Thurles last May, we could well be in for another thriller, and even the prospect of the first All-Ireland final replay since Waterford and Kilkenny 50 years ago.”
In his online preview, the ‘Sunday Game’ pundit acknowledges: “Four All-Irelands in-in-row would be a huge achievement for Kilkenny. These players are well aware that they’re merely 70 minutes away from writing yet another chapter in the history books.”
Yet, in the final analysis, “I have a hunch about this one,” he says. “In 2004 a younger, faster and hungrier Cork team stopped Kilkenny completing a three-in-a-row on a damp Sunday afternoon in Croke Park. Tipp have all the qualities required, and are in with a real shout.”