The key match-ups in the All-Ireland Hurling quarter-finals

The All-Ireland Hurling quarter-finals are almost upon us and the newly developed Pairc Ui Chaoimh will be staging both matches across a sell-out weekend.

Clare are first up as they take on Tipperary in Cork before Wexford’s showdown against Waterford on Sunday.

And as Galway and Cork wait in the wings to determine who they will face in the All-Ireland semi-finals next month, we look at the crucial head-to-head clashes between the quarter finalists.

Clare v Tipperary

Seamus Callanan v Conor McGrath

Seamus Callanan was a picture of perfection during Tipperary’s annihilation of Dublin in Thurles earlier this month.

The defending champions advanced to the quarter-finals as a result of Callanan’s superb 3-11, which helped demolish the Sky Blues.

Tipperary’s Seamus Callanan (Inpho)

His eye for a goal from anywhere will be crucial if Tipp are retain their title but if Clare are to outscore their opponents, they will need Conor McGrath to be at his prolific best.

The 26-year-old, from Ennis, was a standout performer in Clare’s defeat to Cork in the Munster final, scoring once and collecting another point.

Tipperary were suspect at the back against Dublin despite beating the Dubs by 22 points, and the left centre-forward will be hoping to exploit their defensive frailties this weekend.

John McGrath v David Reidy

McGrath was the scourge of Clare earlier in the season as he scored ten points for Tipperary in a 0-28 to 0-21 victory.

The dangerous multi all-star winner was everywhere in that contest and is enjoying a fine season for the Blue and Gold Legends.

The 22-year-old will have to contend with Davie Reidy, who has been a symbol of reliability for the Banner County this season.

Clare’s David Reidy (Inpho)

Reidy racked up six points in their defeat against Tipperary in March and will be hoping for a bigger return if Clare are to have a chance of adding to their three All-Ireland trophies.

Wexford v Waterford

Conor McDonald v Shane Bennett

These two young starlets will go head-to-head in Cork this weekend as two of the brightest hurling talents look to showcase their talents.

Wexford’s McDonald, 21, is in fine form approaching the All-Ireland contest, producing three goals and a further 60 points in his nine appearances for the Yellowbellies in 2017 alone.

Wexford’s Conor McDonald (Inpho)

He is a full-forward with a bright future and will need to be a continuous nuisance for a rigid Waterford backline.

Bennett has become a key figure in the past 12 months as Waterford attempt to lift the All-Ireland trophy for the first time since 1959.

He has proven himself on the U21 stage after a superb solo run against Cork this month but now has a chance to put his name in lights in Cork and if his potential is anything to go by, he could steer Waterford into the semi-finals.

Derek McGrath v Davy Fitzgerald

Two of the most tactically astute managers go toe-to-toe on Sunday, in what should be one of the most intriguing match-ups of the year.

Not necessarily one for the hurling traditionalists, Davy Fitzgerald helped win the All-Ireland trophy with Clare before revolutionising Wexford hurling this year.

Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald (Inpho)

Elsewhere, McGrath has taken Waterford from being a side who appeared to be on a slippery slope to the verge of successive All-Ireland semi-finals.

Whether you like their styles or not, both managers know how to win games and their tactics could play a crucial part in who wins the contest.


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