Éamonn Fitzmaurice says Clare should target the Derry kick-out on Saturday as they chase a first All-Ireland football semi-final appearance in 30 years.

Clare travel to Croke Park as underdogs against the Ulster champions, who themselves are bidding to reach the last four for the first time since 2004.

While Fitzmaurice expects a "cagey" affair, the All-Ireland-winning manager feels Clare could gain an advantage on opposition restarts.

Fitzmaurice told the RTÉ GAA Podcast: "I think Clare will try to get at Derry on their kick-out.

"Odhrán Lynch likes to go long because when Derry win possession they like to go up the field quickly.

"Clare have Darren O'Neill and Cathal O'Connor in the middle of the field, big strong operators, and if they can get any foothold at all in terms of winning a couple of kick-outs and going at Derry when they’re a bit open, that’s an opportunity.

"Similarly, Derry like to press the opposition kick-out so that if they win ball and move it on fast there will be opportunities. You’d hope Clare will be ambitious in those areas."

Derry captain Christopher McKaigue celebrates with the Anglo Celt Cup

While Clare are preparing for their third game in 22 days, having accounted for Meath and Roscommon in the qualifiers, it is almost four weeks since Derry’s tense extra-time win over Donegal in the Ulster final.

But rather than being a negative, Fitzmaurice believes the break will stand to the Oak Leafers.

"I would worry for the likes of Kerry with a four-week break, but it suited Derry because it was a huge achievement for them," he said.

"They were very open afterwards that they were going to enjoy the celebrations, the first couple of days of being Ulster champions. For a new and developing team, that kind of bonding and togetherness, having the few drinks and going around together with the cup, that’s brilliant.

"They also have plenty of time as well to get right for the quarter-final."

'Two health warnings for Derry'

Donegal suffered a heavy loss against Armagh in the qualifiers following their Ulster final defeat

Fitzmaurice expects Derry to win Saturday's quarter-final and potentially reach a first All-Ireland final since 1993, but he voiced some concerns heading into their game with Clare.

"I would put two health warnings with Derry and this weekend will provide the answers," he said.

"It was a brilliant Ulster Championship to win, no doubt about it - if you sat down beforehand and said Derry will win it, beating Tyrone, Monaghan and Donegal, you’d say, 'wow that’s amazing’.

"But having seen what happened to Tyrone, Monaghan and Donegal afterwards, how good were they this season? That’s one question for Derry.

"The other thing is how well their game will transfer to Croke Park. I think it’ll transfer quite well because they’re so fit and Rory Gallagher has the experience of having transferred with Jim McGuinness, and the Donegal template of being even better in Croke Park.

"I wouldn’t be as worried about that but the way the form lines have played out over the championship – a brilliant achievement but none of Tyrone, Monaghan or Donegal were going as well as they can go.

"That’s the only health warning I’d have with Derry. I still think they’re going to take serious beating, both this weekend and further into the championship. But it will be interesting to see where they’re at on Saturday evening."

Benny Heron was among the goalscorers in Derry's league win away to Clare

Derry proved extremely hard to break down during the Ulster Championship while they showcased their attacking qualities against Clare during this year's league. They hit 3-12 in a nine-point win at Cusack Park in February with 11 different players getting on the scoresheet.

Fitzmaurice, however, expects a much tighter contest at Croke Park and that Clare will mimic their opponents by putting bodies behind the ball.

The former Kerry manager said: "Pearse Lillis is nominally selected at wing-forward - he can play there and is one of those transition players up and down the field - but he sits in as a sweeper and tries to protect the inside line.

"Clare get plenty of bodies back and counter-attack. One of the developments in their game this season is they’re quite happy to hold onto the ball for a while and take the sting out of the game, then go and attack it. I would expect it to be quite cagey.

"You’d hope that Clare will have a go. I was surprised with how conservative Donegal were because they’re at their best when they’re coming at pace, playing one-twos. They have the athleticism to get up and down the field, even if they lose the ball. But they were so conscious, and had worked so hard to not turn over possession, that they took it to levels of paranoia rarely seen before. It did add to the spectacle in terms of the intrigue about a turnover seeming so significant.

"I’ve massive respect for Clare and came across them a lot in my own time. We had a couple of narrow escapes in Cusack Park.

"I remember in 2017 we beat Dublin in the league final and played Clare a few weeks later in the Munster Championship. Donnchadh Walsh got sent off just before half-time and we were playing into a breeze in the second half with 14 men. We played very well in the second half to get through it.

"I’d have always have great time for Clare but I think Derry have too much and their game will transfer well to Croke Park. They’ll be hard to stop, not just this weekend but going forward."

We need your consent to load this YouTube contentWe use YouTube to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

Listen to the RTÉ GAA Podcast at Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Follow the All-Ireland Football Championship quarter-finals on Saturday, Derry v Clare (3.45pm) and Dublin v Cork (6pm), via our live blog on rte.ie/sport or on the RTÉ News app. Listen to live radio commentary on RTÉ Radio 1.

Follow the All-Ireland Football Championship quarter-finals on Sunday, Galway v Armagh (1.45pm) and Kerry v Mayo (4pm), via our live blog on rte.ie/sport or on the RTÉ News app. Watch live coverage on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player commencing at 1.15pm with live radio commentary on RTÉ Radio 1.