Will The Cats Survive This Weekend?

All Ireland SHC Quarter-Final

Clare v Wexford, Pairc Ui Chaoimh, 3pm

Forget about being sent on the back door route or a place in the All Ireland Semi finals the additional spice in this tie is added by the fact that Davy Fitz sets up the Slaneysiders to face his native county.

Davy knows the Banner squad inside out which is probably a good basis fof devising a gameplan to shut them down and it's a mystery to me how Clare haven't pushed on from some of their earlier performances this season.

The Banner have an incredible team of stars who in their own right would be included in your top hurling squad of the year like John Conlon, Tony Kelly and Shane O'Donnell - the key problem for them seems to be the fact that they can't quite mould them into a killer team.

Both counties exited at the Quarter-Final round in 2017 and while Clare gathered confidence and momentum with a three match winning streak in Munster, how much has the provincial decider loss to Cork set them back?

Wexford were caught out themselves in Leinster losing to Galway before Kilkenny launched a trademark comeback at Nowlan Park.

Fitzgerald's charges did what was needed in Mullingar last Saturday with Aidan Nolan and David Dunne's form a source of encouragement.

And any team with Lee Chin in it has a powerhouse.

But John Conlon's 1-19 from play in five matches must make him an All Star contender and with the Banner keeping faith with the Munster final starting team its a real statement by management that they still believe in the team.

I think Clare are more balanced and have greater options around the field than Wexford.

It's knockout and with the threat of the end of your summer campaign looming this weekend I just feel the Banner have the greater artillery to advance, particularly if Tony Kelly and Peter Duggan get going.

Verdict: Clare

Sunday July 15 All Ireland SHC Quarter-Final

Limerick v Kilkenny, Semple Stadium, 2pm

Brendan Cummins reckons Limerick will never have a better opportunity to beat Kilkenny than this weekend.

It is a game that should prepare John Kielys side for greater battles ahead and not just this season.

Limerick must really be wondering what that last modification is that would enable them claim some silverware.

Beating Tipperary and Waterford either side of a draw with Cork, is a creditable record so far this summer.

Limerick left Cusack Park following their last Munster group fixture nursing plenty of regrets, but they cruised to victory over Carlow last Saturday.

Aaron Gillane's 1-6 was important, but Limerick now want to show their ability on the national stage. 

Galway were shooting from all angles in the opening period of both the Leinster final and the replay against the Cats.

But Kilkenny's bravery was evident. Brian Cody's team responded by narrowing the gap after the restart, but Galway had sufficient class and composure to close the deal.

Maybe it's because I am from Tipp but I really would like to see a Limerick victory.

John Kiely is a savvy manager and principal of the Abbey CBS in Tipp town and my thinking behind wishing his squad to victory os that it's that the hurling world generally would love to see Limerick be reacquainted with the Liam McCarthy.

it's simply been too long.

John Mullane is quoted as saying you can only be sure you have Kilkenny beaten when you are on the motorway home.

And while I would love to see a Limerick win, it's hard to bet against the Cats.

As the season goes on they have a habit of improving and if they do that it will be a big ask for Limerick.

Hence I have to give the Noresiders a reluctant nod.

Verdict Kilkenny. (But hoping to be proved wrong!)