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For thirsty Clare, the need for silverware is greater

Many of the country's best hurlers aren’t even in the country at present as they are fine tuning championship preparations on training camps.

As I have written about before, these camps were always something I thoroughly enjoyed, a mixture of great craic and the opportunity for everyone to get fully focused on the task ahead in championship.

So are Clare and Kilkenny missing out on the best possible preparation for championship or are they getting it on Saturday night in Thurles for the Allianz League Division 1 final?

I still believe the winner of the league should be the top team after the group games are done and dusted, but last weekend in the football finals is an obvious counter-argument to that.

It was some of the most exciting football we have seen in a while – mainly the Division 1 final to be fair – but in 20 years’ time, the pub quiz question will be who won Sam Maguire in 2024, not the league showpiece.

That’s the way it has been and always will be, it’s all about the championship.

Will Clare and Kilkenny be going for this?

100% they both will be and should be. Come through this battle with a clean bill of health and maybe even one or two more staking a claim for championship selection and it’s serious preparation for the serious business in 17 days’ time.

Both sides can fully go at it as they won’t meet in their round robin campaigns so no need for holding back there either.

This is even more likely for Kilkenny given their first round robin game is against Antrim and in Nowlan Park, whereas the Banner welcome the All-Ireland champions to Ennis.

So who wants it and who needs it?

One of the greatest men I’ve ever heard to get a team going and focused on the task ahead was Kieran 'Fraggy’ Murphy from Sarsfields in Cork.

H

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