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Banner's fitness boom can help them to write off Treaty

THIRD time lucky? It would certainly be the ambush of all ambushes, the sickener in the season of goodwill for Clare.

Twice they have beaten their nearest and dearest this year, most notably in the Division 1B final when they came from behind somewhat spectacularly to secure promotion.

Wouldn't it be an odd quirk of fate, though, if John Allen and the Treaty County came back to haunt Clare in the biggest match of the season, particularly after Davy Fitz's brigade put their long losing streak to bed with last Saturday's gutsy win over Dalo's Dubs?

And make no mistake, Clare were fully money for their win. They were perhaps unlucky to be six points down if not particularly unfortunate to be a man behind early in the second half but they out-thought and outfought Dublin from there on in.

Fitness-wise, it was yet another illustration of how far the Banner men have come under Davy Fitz but tactically, they were at ease with their system and possessed an innate confidence that things would come right for them on the day.

Not that it wasn't without its quirks. The short-passing game which, in all fairness, they persisted with until the end, almost proved their undoing in the first half and Limerick will have taken stock of the fact that they aren't yet the most polished movers of the ball across their backline.

They do, however, have pace to burn and in John Conlon and Darach Honan, two dangerous target men. Not that either were particularly better than their markers last week in Cusack Park but even if they are kept quiet, they represent a clear and present danger whilst they remain on the pitch. Suffice to say, the victory was equally attributable to their heroic defence, the pick of whom, Brendan Bugler, cast himself in All Star light with a brilliant second-half display of winning clean ball.

Doubts raised by Ciarán Carey over the fitness of the Limerick team haven't gone away, particularly after their Munster fade-out against Tipperary.

And unless something drastic has been achieved in the past month, Clare should finish brighter and stronger again.

ODDS: Limerick 8/11, Draw 9/1, Clare 5/4

VERDICT: Clare