All Ireland Senior Hurling Fin...

All Ireland Senior Hurling Final places at stake

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And then there were two.

But which county is just two matches away from winning the Liam McCarthy?

From September 12 months ago, Galway were touted as a side that would be around for a few years - capable of doing a Kilkenny-style September sequence.

The westerners are just 2 games away from doing that, so everything is pretty much on track for them, apart from needing a second day out to kill off the Cats.

Now they are preparing to face neighbours Clare.

Clare v Galway, Croke Park, 5pm Saturday July 28th

Amazingly, Clare make their first Croke Park Championship appearance since Shane O'Donnell blasted a hat-trick of goals to win a dramatic All Ireland Final replay in 2013.

In the intervening years, Clare have endured plenty of summer heartbreak, but there has been a determination about Donal Maloney and Gerry O'Connor's charges throughout the current campaign.

The provincial decider loss to Cork was a setback, but Clare's response against Wexford at Páirc Ui Chaoimh has them back on track.

Tony Kelly and John Conlon have both struck 1-22 each in six 2018 games and will take watching by the Maroon backs.

Galway were untroubled in Leinster despite a tense final with Kilkenny.

Michael O Donoghue's side hurled well in the replay with Jonathan Glynn's presence adding artillery to the forward unit.

Clare will need to put some thought into how to cope the Galway aerial bombardment launched by goalkeeper James Skehill. 

The eventual winners will hinge on the outcome of the duel between John Conlon and Daithi Burke. 

We need to see the best Tony Kelly peformance of 2018 for the Banner to profit but he can be a game changer.

However with Gearoid McInerney imperious around the half back line and the pace of Conor Whelan up front it's hard to look past Galway, unless the Banner turn up with something like the unity of purpose from 2013.

Verdict - Galway. 

All Ireland SHC Semi-Final Cork v Limerick, Croke Park, 3.30pm Sunday 29th Jun.

It is set to be the biggest game of the hurling summer with an attendance of 75,000 already confirmed.

Cork's second successive Munster title has the Rebels fired up to get a stage further than 12 months ago when Waterford ended their run in the big smoke.

Limerick must be thinking they have a right shot though, given their Leeside draw a few weeks ago.

There have been some inspirational quotes from John Kiely who says his squad aren't burdened by history or the fact they haven't won the title since 1973.

The Abbey CBS principal is integrating several of their victorious All Ireland Under 21's from 2015 and 2017 to great effect.

Mark Coleman and Darragh Fitzgibbon are key cogs in the Rebel machine, but the mobility and scores being supplied by Patrick Horgan, Seamus Harnedy, and Conor Lehane are driving Cork on.

Tom Morrissey is a matchwinner for Limerick, with Diarmuid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, and Dan Morrissey has been instrumental in their journey.

Cork look more battle ready for this one though having been here 12 months ago. With a family home so close to the Limerick border, I hope I'm proved wrong though!

Verdict Cork.


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