Preview: All-Ireland SHC semi-final – Clare v Kilkenny:

Saturday 6th July

All-Ireland SHC semi-final
Kilkenny v Clare in Croke Park at 3pm – RTE/BBC

Ryan Taylor is in line to make his first appearance for Clare in 12 months after being named on the subs bench for Saturday’s All-Ireland SHC semi-final against Kilkenny.

The Clooney-Quin clubman suffered a ruptured cruciate ligament in this corresponding fixture last year, and his return is a big boost for the Banner, giving them additional options in midfield and attack.

Clare make one change to the team that defeated Wexford in the All-Ireland SHC quarter-final two weeks ago with Aidan McCarthy coming into the XV in place of Aron Shanagher who drops to the bench.

Kilkenny have named the same side that were so impressive when beating Dublin in the Leinster SHC Final four weeks ago.

Wing-back Mikey Carey was forced off injured in that game, but is fit to take his place in the starting XV.

Clare have lost successive All-Ireland semi-finals to the Cats and will be desperate not to make it an unhappy hat-trick of defeats.

In 2022 their defence was cut to shreds by the Kilkenny inside forwards and last year they tried to prevent the same thing happening by playing Seadna Morey as a sweeper in defence.

It was a tactical ploy that didn’t work. Clare trailed by five points at half-time and were a much better team when they went man on man in the second half, but they ultimately left themselves too much to do.

They’ll surely go man on man from the start on Saturday, but expect John Conlon to sit deep in front of his full-back line and Cathal Malone to also drop a few yards to curb a Kilkenny attack that ran riot in the Leinster Final.

In the last two All-Ireland semi-finals between the teams Kilkenny dominated the middle third with their harrying, hassling, hooking, and blocking, and if we’re to have a different result on Saturday Clare must turn the tables here.

It’s likely to be a game of very fine margins with both teams matching up well in most sectors of the field.

In the final reckoning it could all come down to a couple of individual performances.

Here’s betting that if Tony Kelly and Shane O’Donnell can outscore Adrian Mullen and Eoin Cody or vice versa, the game will be won by the team with the superior duo.

CLARE: Eibhear Quilligan; Adam Hogan, Conor Cleary, Conor Leen; Diarmuid Ryan, John Conlon, David McInerney; David Fitzgerald, Cathal Malone; Tony Kelly, Mark Rodgers, Peter Duggan; Aidan McCarthy, Shane O’Donnell, David Reidy. Subs: Cian Broderick, Rory Hayes, Paul Flanagan, Cian Galvin, Darragh Lohan, Ryan Taylor, Ian Galvin, Aron Shanagher, Shane Meehan, Keith Smyth, Seán Rynne.

KILKENNY: Eoin Murphy; Mikey Butler, Huw Lawlor, Tommy Walsh; David Blanchfield, Richie Reid, Mikey Carey; Cian Kenny, Paddy Deegan; Adrian Mullen, TJ Reid, John Donnelly; Martin Keoghan, Billy Ryan, Eoin Cody. Subs: Aidan Tallis, Conor Delaney, Shane Murphy, Jordan Molloy, Cillian Buckley, Conor Fogarty, Tom Phelan, Walter Walsh, Owen Wall, Conor Heary, Gearoid Dunne.