The winner between the Banner and the Dubs will earn a semi-final meeting with Kilkenny in Croke Park, while either the Tribesmen or the Premier will go on to face Limerick.
The TUS Gaelic Grounds will be the venue for an All-Ireland quarter-final double header this Saturday, as Clare clash with Dublin at 4pm, while Galway and Tipperary face off afterwards at 6:15pm. The winner between the Banner and the Dubs will earn a semi-final meeting with Kilkenny in Croke Park, while either the Tribesmen or the Premier will go on to face Limerick.
Speaking on the Treaty Talk Podcast, former Limerick hurler Leo O’Connor believes Galway and Tipperary will be a very close match, with both sides having up and down provincial campaigns.
The Tribesmen lost out in the dying seconds of the Leinster final, and could only muster a draw with Dublin. However, Henry Shefflin’s side will know that they can put it up to any team in the country after pushing Limerick all the way in their All-Ireland semi-final in 2022.
Tipperary on the other hand are more of a mixed bag, as they seemed to be cruising to the Munster final, only to be beaten by an already eliminated Waterford side, and fall to the preliminary rounds. Yes, they boasted the highest ever championship score recorded against Offaly, but they also shipped 3-18, and that won’t be good enough Saturday.
Regardless of the result this Saturday, O’Connor feels Limerick won’t get carried away with potential opposition, and will focus on themselves.
“Limerick will just focus on themselves, and I think its a chance for John to get a look at both Tipp and Galway, in the perfect scenario, he can sit down and enjoy the game. He’ll learn more on Saturday because these two teams have got to go out and express themselves, and show their hand.
“John will know he’s got the intensity levels, got the work rate back into these players. Galway and Tipp, very hard one to call because there’s very different factors from both teams coming into it, John will enjoy Saturday and analyse everything.”
The Offaly U20 manager man feels the meeting between Dublin and Clare will be much closer than expected, stating the Dubs “have nothing to lose.” Clare come into the game off the back of a deflating Munster final loss less than two weeks ago, and have already played four exhausting games before that.
It is a Dublin side who finished third in Leinster, and have been able to reintroduce themselves to the championship with a straightforward win over Carlow last time out.
“Dublin have nothing to lose, and everything to gain on Saturday, they’ve had the break of the Leinster final. I don’t think they’ll disappoint, I think Dublin will turn up and put it up to a Clare team who will be getting over the disappointment of the Munster final.
“Brian (Lohan) has one or two question marks in his own head coming away from the Munster final, they’ve got to be answered by Clare players.”
The premier and the capital side will be out for the second successive win following their facile preliminary quarter-final wins over Offaly and Carlow respectively. While the Joe McDonagh champions did well to an extent against Dublin, they were never fancied to win.
Instead it is the drubbing Offaly received that has brought about a conversation on Joe McDonagh participation. The Premier put up 7-38, as they recorded the highest championship score ever seen, and in truth, the game was over inside the first ten minutes.
Watching the game live, O’Connor feels something has to change as a result.
“That game was of no benefit to Offaly last Saturday, I just think McDonagh Cup is McDonagh Cup.
“Being beaten by Carlow in the final, things didn’t go their way. In terms of Offaly, it was a hard day for everyone associated with Offaly, the gulf in class between S&C of Tipperary, the speed of hurling, it showed the major gulf in class.
“It was an absolute disaster, players don’t need that, I just can’t understand the benefits. If you’re good enough you get up there on merit.”
Regardless of the failings of the preliminary round, we are now in a situation where we have top teams going at it for a spot in the All-Ireland semi-finals.
Thus weekend’s double header promises to be a fantastic occasion of hurling with the prize on offer a chance against a provincial champion in Croke Park.
It has been an incredible championship so far, and long may it continue.
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