Ballyhale Shamrocks face Dunloy in Sunday’s All-Ireland SHC final, but what are the match-ups that could decide the destination of the Tommy Moore Cup?
Joey Holden vs Keelan Molloy
Molloy’s wonder goal against St Thomas’ will have put the Ballyhale defence on notice.
The manner in which the Saffrons front-man strode through the Galway club’s rearguard and nonchalantly finished to the net straight off his stick showed just how dangerous he can be.
After a stunning defensive display against Ballygunner where he kept the shackles on Dessie Hutchinson, Joey Holden will likely be instructed to follow Molloy all over the field.
Holden was not planning to return for Ballyhale this season, but after some fine individual performances, he will be looking to cap the campaign in style.
TJ Reid vs Kevin Molloy
Ballyhale boast one of the greatest players to ever pick up a camán in their ranks. And it speaks volumes for a club side that even when TJ Reid has an off-day, they can still dig out wins. However, if Dunloy allow Reid to run amok, then they have little hope of victory on Sunday.
Kevin Molloy has anchored the Dunloy defence all year, as the Antrim club scored upset defeats against both Slaughtneil and St Thomas’.
He may be trusted to follow the roaming Kilkenny star, as the 2015 Hurler of the Year looks to pull the strings for the eight-time All-Ireland winners.
Gregory O’Kane knows that of all the duels on the field, this is the one Dunloy need to nail.
Killian Corcoran vs Conal Cunning
Ballygunner’s downfall in the All-Ireland semi-final was their failure to do significant damage on the score-board. 0-16 at Croke Park is rarely going to cut it. After Hutchinson, their top scorers from play were Pauric Mahony and Patrick Fitzgerald (0-2 apiece).
A trusted man-marker, Corcoran stepped up against Ballygunner, particularly following the early injury to full-back colleague Darren Mullen.
Antrim hurler Conal Cunning is another sharp-shooter within the Dunloy ranks. With significant experience at Croke Park in recent years with his county, Cunning will not be overwhelmed by the occasion.
To have a chance of causing another upset, Dunloy need their top players firing on all cylinders. And Cunning will need to deliver.