If Kilkenny and Tipperary were the two teams most neutrals wanted to see in last year’s All-Ireland final, Ballyhale Shamrocks and Portumna are the two everyone wanted for a club final appearance.
I think this will settle the argument as to who is currently the greatest club team. Both these sides can set records on St Patrick's Day - a victory for the Shamrocks over the current champions would see them rise above Birr in the roll of honours list with five titles. On the other hand, if Portumna land the spoils, they will be the first team to achieve a three-in-a-row at club level.
It's going to take a massive effort from the Ballyhale men to dethrone the Galway champions. Lessons will have to be learned from last year’s semi-final loss. They simply can't give the same space to the Portumna men this time around and expect to win. They will also need a greater return from their inside forward line than in their semi-final victory over Newtownshandrum.
This game is being billed as the clash between Henry Shefflin and Joe Canning, but there are so many stars on both sides. Aidan Cummins is a cool character and he definitely won't lose any sleep over marking big Joe. For me though the real danger could come from the livewire Damian Hayes. They certainly can't afford to let this guy get into his stride.
The vibes from the Shamrocks’ camp are good after two fine victories over Waterford and Dublin seniors in the last week or two. The big bonus for the Ballyhale men this time around is that Cha Fitzpatrick and Michael Fennelly are a lot healthier than they were 12 months ago...word has it that Cha was back to his very best in those recent challenge games.