NEUTRAL VIEW FROM OUTSIDE THE COUNTY:

TONY CONSIDINE – Former Clare manager and Irish Examiner hurling columnist.

1. Critical battle areas:

The Ballyhale backs against the Portumna forward line. Can Ballyhale hold firm at the back? I expect the Shamrock management team to come up with a plan to try to cut off space at the back. They will not allow, or they will hope not to allow, the Portumna forwards the space they had last year.

I don’t expect the Galway lads to score five goals this year, that’s for sure. I’d say that Cha Fitzpatrick will drop back and play very deep behind his own half-back line to pick up ball. It should be a great tactical battle and I know that Ballyhale are well up for it after last year’s defeat.

2. Who will win the All-Ireland club hurling final next Wednesday?

It’s a hard game to call, but I have a sneaky feeling for Ballyhale to win it.

3. Why do you think Ballyhale will win?

This is more then just Ballyhale against Portumna. It is Kilkenny against Galway and Kilkenny don’t like being second place to anyone in hurling. Ballyhale are going well and they had a tough game against Newtownshandrum (Cork ) in the semi-final which will stand them in good stead.

They should have a greater motivation than Portumna this year and they will want revenge for how they were hurled off the field last year. Portumna did a Kilkenny on Ballyhale last year and got stuck into them and Ballyhale were surprised by that and were knocked out of their stride.

They will be better prepared this year and some of their players are in better form. Guys like Cha Fitzpatrick will have a bigger say than he did last year.

Portumna are a great team, but I just think that Ballyhale will come good next Wednesday.

4. Anything else to add?

We have the two best club hurling teams in the country in an All-Ireland final, what else could you ask for? Hopefully they will produce what we know they can and we have a classic.

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