Kilkenny should have more space and opportunity against Cork on Sunday than they did in their Leinster Championship defeat to Wexford last month, according to Tommy Walsh.
The former Kilkenny star was previewing the weekend's hurling on Thursday’s OTB AM and said that while he expects Sunday's game to be a “tight” contest, Kilkenny should edge out their Munster opponents.
"If the Kilkenny backs can stop good ball going into that forward line and if we see the hunger that we saw out of Laois at the weekend out of the Kilkenny forward line then they will win”, Walsh predicted.
However, Walsh faceted his prediction of a Kilkenny victory with the argument that if the game becomes an end-to-end shoot-out then, "Cork will win.”
Walsh also highlighted the quality of Kilkenny’s TJ Reid as one of the reasons that the Cats should outclass their Rebels opponents.
“They are going to have to play a totally different game. They are probably going to have to put Mark Ellis or someone like that on TJ, someone who is good in the air,” Walsh said of how Cork could muzzle the influence of Reid on the game.
“When you play against TJ and you're not going to double-mark him you just have to take it and accept he is going to score a couple of points. And then it’s more about just damage limitation really than anything else.”
However, while Reid has the ability to dominate and alter the outcome of a game, Walsh also noted that Kilkenny will not simply be relying on the Ballyhale Shamrocks clubman for victory.
“They have Walter Walsh, Colin Fennelly, they have Adrian Mullen who is the club hurler of the year. I know these guys didn't get the spaces that they required against Wexford which would definitely benefit them more but they will definitely get that on Sunday and I think they won't be as dependent on TJ Reid as you might think.”
Walsh also added that he would like to see Brian Cody reintroduce Richie Hogan to the playing side, saying that he believed the 30-year-old hurler “still has a lot to give”.
“If Richie is playing and if they come with a savage hunger in their forward line then I think Kilkenny can win.”
Kilkenny vs. Cork starts at 2pm on Sunday.