Clare and Kilkenny will go head-to-head next month in the All-Ireland SHC semi-final as the championship reaches its crescendo.
The Banner will hope they can move one-step closer towards winning the All-Ireland for the first time since 2013, while for Kilkenny it has been a seven-year wait for the ultimate glory.
Both teams’ mini-droughts add another dimension to a game that already has a lot riding on it for everyone involved.
One man that knows a lot about All-Ireland semi-finals is Eoin Larkin.
See also: Kilkenny legend Eoin Larkin on ‘two poor All-Ireland quarter-finals’
The 8-time All-Ireland winner assessed Kilkenny’s chances of making the decider for the first time since 2019 when he spoke to KCLR’s Full Time on Monday.
The James Stephens clubman also identified where the game will be won and lost, what the four week break will mean for the Cats, and offered his opinion on the analysis on The Sunday Game.
He began: “It will be a really tough game for Kilkenny. They can only concentrate on their own game but it would be foolish to ignore Clare’s threat.
“They’ll have to get themselves right and make sure they’re prepared for it. It’s going to be a formidable task. Kilkenny have been up and down this year whereas Clare have been steady.
“Clare will be a different animal. They’ll have more confidence and they’ll have sharpened up because of the Wexford game. Kilkenny will have to be at their best to win because Clare have been really strong all year and I don’t see any reason why they won’t play well.”
See also: Camán Caint S2E21: Female referees, schools finals review, All-Ireland round 4 previews
Larkin continued: “I think it’s more beneficial to go through the qualifier route. The more competitive games you get, the better you should get throughout the year. For Clare, they’ll have a two week break which can be perfect in terms of resting and then going again.
“Kilkenny could be very rusty because of the four week gap. It will be interesting to see who gets up to the pace of the game faster but it will be exciting.
“I’d like to see Huw Lawlor at centre back because I think we’d be a lot more solid than we were in the Leinster final.
“If we give away goal chances to Clare we’ll be in serious trouble and the game could be over in the opening period. If we can keep it tight and hold Clare, we have the forwards that can cause serious damage.
“I don’t watch The Sunday Game anymore because everything is about having an ulterior motive.
“They only bring up the flashpoints in the game instead of talking about the good hurling that is on display. I really can’t watch it anymore and I wouldn’t pay too much attention to what’s said on it either.”