Cork face All-Ireland champions Kilkenny in the NHL final with the Rebels anxious to show that they can mix it with the country’s best ahead of the start of the Championship.
Cork have endured something of a fallow period since their last All-Ireland success (back in 2005) while the Cats have gone from strength to strength.
Kilkenny have won four league titles over the last decade while Cork’s last triumph in the secondary national competition was back in 1998.
Kilkenny lost to Dublin (1-07 to 0-22) in last year’s final while Cork lost the 2010 decider to Galway.
Cork, having been eliminated in the group stages last year, when they finished sixth of the eight teams involved in the division, have seen a dramatic upturn in fortunes which has coincided with the return of Jimmy Barry Murphy to the managerial hotseat. There can be little doubt that the man who guided the county to All-Ireland success back in 1999 has played a pivotal role in the improvement in fortunes the Blood and Bandage have enjoyed this year.
Brian Cody meanwhile is seeking his fifth league win as Kilkenny manager in what will be his eighth final.
Both sides have lost just once in the league this year and were very impressive in their respective semi-finals with the Cats beating Galway by nine points and Cork overcoming last year’s All-Ireland finalists Tipperary, despite the loss of captain Dónal Óg Cusack, who looks set to miss the remainder of the season.
Tickets for the final can be purchased from SuperValu/Centra outlets in Cork and Kilkenny as well as from gaa.ie/tickets.