Cork go into Sunday’s Munster Senior Hurling Championship final with Clare protecting a two-year, seven-game unbeaten run in the province.

The defending champion Rebels haven’t lost a game in Munster since their 2016 reverse to Tipperary.

Since then they have won five, including last year’s final against Clare, and drawn two as they head into the weekend’s showdown with the Banner at Semple Stadium in Thurles.

"We just need to build on our success over the last four games – we’re unbeaten in Munster the last two years, we topped the group and we want to stay unbeaten," said Rebel boss John Meyler, speaking to RTÉ Sport.

Cork won a traditional, knock-out Munster SHC last year, beating Tipperary, Waterford and Clare on the way to picking up the silverware.

This year the grand old competition got a serious overhaul, with the five teams grouped together in a round-robin format. Cork won two games, beating Clare and Waterford, and drew two more, with Tipp and Limerick.

The top two teams in the province go forward to the final, the winner going to the All-Ireland semi-final and the loser sent to the quarter-final stage.

The third place team goes into a preliminary quarter-final to take on one of the Joe McDonagh Cup finalists. The bottom two teams in Munster were eliminated in June.

And now that his team stand on the verge of retaining the title, Meyler is determined to take the shortest route to Croke Park.

"I only believe in going through the front door – I don’t believe in the backdoor," he said.

"If you win your province you get a bye to the All-Ireland semi-final, which is a shorter route. That’s what we’re looking for.

"We’re delighted with where we are. Our second objective was to reach the Munster final, we’ve done that, the first was to be one of the three teams to qualify from the Munster championship. We expect an extremely hard, competitive game against Clare."

Conor Lehane gets excited during Cork's win over Clare

Cork are looking to beat Clare for the third time in three attempts across 12 months in Championship hurling.

Their most recent meeting was on 5 May when the Rebels won 2-23 to 1-21 at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

However, defender Damien Cahalane warned: "You can see that in the Championship this year – anyone can beat anyone in Munster. We beat them the last day, but they’re after making a few changes since then and they’re looking a whole pile stronger.

"We knew going out the first day that we were going to have to bring our A game to beat them and we are going to have to go above and beyond that this time.

"You have to look at their team as a whole and they have super players all over the pitch."

That defeat to Cork was Clare’s first game of the 2018 Munster campaign and since then they went on to win their three remaining group matches.

And it is a return to what many consider the home of hurling.

"Thurles is a special place, the Munster championship is special and a Munster final in Thurles is the pinnacle," noted Cork corner-back Colm Spillane.

Follow Kilkenny v Galway and Cork v Clare on Sunday via the live blog on RTÉ.ie/Sport and the News Now App, live on RTÉ2’s The Sunday Game or listen  to live updates on RTÉ  Radio 1’s Sunday Sport.