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After an epic Munster Final enjoyed by all, it was disappointing to see the coverage afterwards focus solely on Clare indiscretions with no attempt at balance.

The Sunday Game singled out Clare and highlighted perceived acts of ill-discipline on the Clare side that was unfair and certainly unhelpful to Clare preparations for the All-Ireland quarter final. While Clare failed in their appeal to get a totally unjust red card for Ian Galvin earlier in the season, luckily Galway came to our aid this time out as they highlighted procedural failure by the CCCC allowing Rory Hayes, Peter Duggan and Cianan Fahy to play this weekend.

The coverage from RTÉ and The Sunday Game sets a dangerous precedence for the remainder of the year. If anyone steps out of line for any team in the remaining five games, there will be clamours for it to be covered on Sunday evening and for suspensions to follow. It is not the way we would like to have our games played out and it highlights the power of pundits on RTÉ to influence the championship.

While preparations will have been disrupted by this side show, at least Clare head into this weekend’s game with both players available for selection. Clare have enjoyed a good run of form over Wexford in recent years with the yellow bellies failing to trouble Clare in championship clashes. While they had a promising start to the league their form dipped thereafter until they rallied to a great win versus Kilkenny in Nowlan Park. While Kilkenny had already qualified for the Leinster final it was a huge confidence booster for Wexford and they will hope to carry that momentum into this quarter final.

Many have commented on the fact that Clare could be drained after a titanic effort against Limerick in the Munster Final. They poured everything they had onto the field and came up just short after extra time. Will this impact their psyche and diminish their belief? I strongly disagree with that narrative. While gutted with the result, I came away from the Munster final full of optimism. Limerick have been the best team in the country for the last four years. They won an All-Ireland in 2021 in which they were completely dominant and looked miles ahead of the competition. Since then, Clare have narrowed the gap and are unbeaten in 70 minutes across league and championship in 2022. Clare only needs to beat them once and have proven that it is within them to do so.

It was noted in the aftermath of the provincial finals that the Munster clash seemed far better in quality than the Leinster final. There’s no doubt but that it made for a better spectacle, but Clare cannot allow themselves to believe that means anything other than their supporters got better value for their money. These games take on a life of their own and there is nothing between Kilkenny Galway and Clare. I do think that Wexford are a step below these counties, but they make for a dangerous proposition all the same.

Wexford utilised a dangerous inside forward duo of Conor McDonald and Rory O’Connor. In my opinion these two didn’t fully reach their potential in Leinster as they played on tight fields that did not lend itself to inside forward play. Saturday is a huge opportunity for them to spearhead the Wexford challenge from the front. McDonald is dangerous in the air and when his shooting boots are on can be a serious goal threat. O’Connor is one of the top players in the country and plays well off Conor McDonald who can offer a threat from direct ball. Conor Cleary and Paul Flanagan have been hugely consistent in the championship thus far and will need to be on top of their game to nullify Wexford’s biggest threat by far.

Where Wexford have failed in recent years is not having a presence close to goal and being reduced to taking pot shots from long distance. The Clare half backline will need to sit in front of O’Connor and McDonald and cut the supply. It will then fall on the work rate of our midfielders and forwards to pressurise the shots from out the field. This work rate is not in question as it has been shown consistently to date and has allowed Clare to play on the front foot.

Rory Hayes and Peter Duggan will have had an interesting couple of weeks since the Munster Final. It will be interesting to see whether both will be in the starting line up on Saturday or whether management will have made plans without them. Neither will have been overly pleased with their own performance against Limerick. Rory had a sensational start to the championship as he thrived as a teak tough defender who strangled the life out of his marker. He needs to rediscover that form going forward in order for Clare to be a threat.

Peter has been a huge asset for Clare in the full forward line offering ball winning ability and physicality. He would probably rather to be further out the field giving him a chance to grow into the game. For this reason, we may see Shane O’Donnell and him alternate positions throwing something very different at their respective markers each time they switch. It gives both a chance to make the game their own in the half forward line as well as offering a threat that is hard to shut down on the inside line.

Clare have shown their superiority over Wexford regularly in recent years. While Wexford have improved under new management, Clare are thriving at the moment. I expect Clare to bounce from the defeat to Limerick with a convincing win this weekend.

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