Dublin and Clare can reach All-Ireland SHC quarter-finals

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GAA Championship: Peter McNamara assesses the two All-Ireland SHC qualifier matches being shown live on Saturday

Dublin v Limerick

5pm, Saturday, Semple Stadium, Thurles

Live on RTÉ

Will TJ Ryan’s Limerick justify marginal favouritism?

Ger Cunningham and TJ Ryan will be feeling the heat in Semple Stadium as Dublin meet Limerick for a spot in the All-Ireland SHC quarter-finals.

However, Cunningham, by stationing Conal Keaney at full-forward, may have found a way in which Dublin’s inside forward line becomes a truly potent threat.

Keaney was situated on the edge of the square last Saturday and producing a confidence-boosting display against Laois, he scored 1-3 out of Dublin’s 4-17.

If Cian Boland, Eamon Dillon and Danny Sutcliffe excel in this tie across the half-forward line for the Boys in Blue, Keaney, inside them, could do serious damage receiving high-quality possessions.

Richie McCarthy was tormented by Séamus Callanan in the Munster semi-final and Keaney, also representing a physical presence in the same area, could trouble Limerick’s full-back too.

Both of these sides have flattered to deceive alarmingly in the last two years but of the two, I feel there is greater scope for Dublin to challenge beyond this stage.

The addition of Boland on the 40 means Cunningham’s team possesses a dynamic operator in a key sector and there seems to be a more balanced look to Dublin’s forward division now with a sprinkling of many crucial attacking elements.

Offensively, Limerick have quality themselves with Graeme Mulcahy, Kevin Downes and Cian Lynch, most likely roaming in a withdrawn capacity, as front-line forwards.

Still, Dublin can progress.

Conal Keaney fist-pumps after scoring his goal against Laois.

Key man: Conal Keaney.

Verdict: Dublin.

Clare v Cork

7pm, Saturday, Semple Stadium, Thurles

Live on Sky Sports 3

Weather-dependent, this clash could be a real thriller for supporters as Clare tackle Cork for the right to face Galway, Waterford, or, as is less likely to be the case, Tipperary in the All-Ireland SHC quarter-finals.

If the sun shines in Thurles Clare and Cork could serve up one of the games of the season.

At the end of the day, though, it could be Davy Fitzgerald’s men that are basking in the glory of a precious, and potentially defining Championship triumph.

Kilkenny and Tipperary obviously set an exalted standard and, in all honesty, it will be incredibly difficult to stop the two colliding in September.

However, Clare, and as is previously outlined, Dublin may have a word or two to say about that theory yet.

Cork, too, will have All-Ireland title ambitions but their regularly inconsistent form has hindered them, though, admittedly, the same can be said of Dublin to be fair.

Can Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s Rebels produce a second performance of note within seven days following on from their dismissal of Wexford at Innovate Wexford Park? Of course they could.

They will need the likes of Alan Cadogan to really fire to supplement Seamus Harnedy and Conor Lehane while Patrick Horgan’s presence around the middle-third and half-forward line is of greater benefit to the Leesiders.

Darach Honan can light up Semple Stadium on Saturday.

Yet, the Conor McGrath-Darach Honan axis should inspire Clare to victory.

Key men: Conor McGrath/Darach Honan.

Verdict: Clare.