WHAT a weekend of championship hurling to look forward to, both in Thurles and in Ennis.
I'd love to be able to attend both games, but being 100 km apart makes it impossible. Unless a helicopter picks me up after the Ennis game, that would be very much appreciated. Wishful thinking!
I will concentrate on the Clare-Cork game here as this is the first match. I was speaking to a few publicans in Ennis during the week, and they are really looking forward to the weekend, and especially to the Cork supporters coming.
They have the red carpet out for ye boys, and girls, and they also told me that they have a few barrels of Murphys in stock, with great anticipation.
They love the Cork crowd coming to Ennis, they tell me, as it makes their weekend worthwhile. One old publican told me that the Cork crowd were always great followers as well as great spenders. So you can see why they are happy.
But the Cork crowd are coming for more than socialising this weekend, and coming in their numbers I believe, some arriving on Saturday. So coming with confidence to the Banner capital.
Hopefully, the weather will hold up and make it an even better occasion. Summer weather and Munster championship goes hand in hand and it brings the best out in everybody.
When I look at the two managers of both Clare and Cork, I see a lot of similarities as regards managing their teams. Both Pat Ryan and Brian Lohan are two of the soundest and most honest hurling men you could ever wish to meet.
They were very honest as players, gave their all to every team they played for. No egos here, just plain down-to-earth decent guys who are in this game for the right reason. While some managers love the limelight, these two avoid it as much as possible. They have earned respect from everyone in the game, and their teams will go to battle the same way on Sunday, giving it everything, a complete reflection of the two managers.
There is so much at stake in this game.
Every ball will be vital. Every tackle made will be crucial. And any mistake made will be fully punished.
Not an inch will be given in this game. Space won't be found easily: real man-to-man stuff. That is what you expect in championship and I believe that is what we are going to get.
A clear head and complete focus are what is required here. If you have not got that you will be found wanting, especially in this cauldron.
You never know the team selection now until the day of the match, so I am only guessing here as to the lineups.
Will Sean O'Donoghue be back for Cork, will they risk playing him? A hard thing to do after being out injured for so long, but he is the captain of the team, and decisions have to be made.
Will Cork start Shane Kingston now that Robbie O'Flynn is out injured? A big loss for Cork.
Will Tim O'Mahony start and Conor Lehane?
Both did well when introduced against Tipperary in the drawn match. Actually, they made a huge difference, especially O'Mahony.
Will they start him midfield along with Darragh Fitzgibbon? Should be some battle here with Clare's Cathal Malone and Ryan Taylor. Could have a big bearing on the game.
The biggest worry for Brian Lohan on Sunday, and it is a big concern in Clare at the moment, is that they could be without two of their leading players, in Aiden McCarthy, who did not start last week, and also now David McInerney, who came off injured against Waterford.
Apart from Tony Kelly, those two have probably been Clare's best players, especially with their experience, and of course McCarthy's free-taking.
I believe David McInerney has been Clare's best defender this year. Both a huge loss. John Conlan has been steady at centre-back, and you could say, the leader of this team. He could have his hands full here if Seamus Harnedy starts centre-forward.
He seems adaptable to most positions. Will Cork detail a man to follow him? Could it be Robert Downey?
And while he is doing that, who will take care of Tony Kelly? Could it be Sean O'Donoghue if he is playing? Whoever it is, they will be busy. Kelly is showing some great form again, and very much the go-to man for Clare.
Clare's win over Limerick has given them great confidence.
They were beaten in their last game in Ennis against Tipperary, hard to see them lose two games in Ennis. Home venue could swing it for them, but the Rebels won't be worried about that.
Maybe a draw is not out of the equation either.