The first big weekend in the race for Liam McCarthy is over. We look at how the weekend’s results changed the hurling landscape.
1. Clare (No change)
2. Waterford (No change)
3. Kilkenny (No change)
4. Tipperary (No change)
Whatever will be said about Cork, Tipperary were very impressive. The additions of Seán Curran, Dan McCormack and Séamus Kennedy gave the Premier a real edge, and all three impressed. Meanwhile, John McGrath showed that Tipp have a truly dynamic attack, and are no longer reliant on Seamus Callanan.
Michael Ryan’s side pushed on from a positive League campaign, and look dangerous heading into the Munster semi-final against Limerick.
However, the Treaty have beaten Tipp twice in their last three Championship meetings, so Tipp cannot dwell on what was a good day for too long.
5. Limerick (No change)
6. Dublin (+1)
Dublin find themselves in a similar position to Tipperary today. While they will be delighted with a clinical performance over the weekend, it is overshadowed by their opponents’ no-show.
However, Ger Cunningham’s side carried out their task at Headquarters with real professionalism.
The lack of accuracy in a short passing game that let them down in 2014 and 2015 was gone.
Passes were sticking in the wet conditions at Croke Park, while the backs limited the Wexford attack to just 12 points.
Although Peter Kelly will walk straight back into the team once fully fit, Oisín Gough, Cian O’Callaghan and Eoghan O’Donnell all did their jobs; they were efficient with short puck-outs, accurate with their distribution, and fouled when they needed to foul.
11 different scorers is an extremely impressive stat.
Nobody will give the Dubs a prayer against the Cats on June 11, but that will suit them down to the ground.
7. Galway (+1)
8. Cork (-2)
The Rebels were simply demolished yesterday. Forget systems and tactics, man-for-man the Rebels were out-hurled and out-fought.
It is difficult to know where they can go from here. Kieran Kingston may have already played his trump card in dropping five players weeks before the Championship.
Assuming Galway reach the Leinster Final, the one mine-field Cork must avoid in the qualifiers is the loser of Dublin vs Kilkenny. If the draw is kind, the Rebels may plot a route back into contention, but the general consensus is that the summer could end early for Cork.
9. Westmeath (+1)
Job done for Westmeath, with three wins from three in the round robin. By virtue of an unfair draw, they face Galway in the quarter-final of the Leinster Championship, but will be confident that they can take the game to the Tribesmen.
10. Wexford (-1)
Liam Dunne’s side were simply hopeless on Saturday evening at Croker. The loss of Lee Chin was a killer blow, as Dublin tore through them in the middle of the park.
However, if one only thing was clear, it was that the Yellowbellies lacked the true grit required to win matches against the big teams. While there is no doubt about their talent, they need a toughness to be taken seriously.
Liam Ryan was a stand-out performer in the backs.
11. Offaly (+2)
For everything negative said about the Faithful following the loss to Westmeath in the first round, they have quietly gone about their business.
Two wins over Carlow and Kerry see Offaly into a Leinster quarter-final against Laois, who have not played since the League promotion/relegation play-off with Westmeath.
The O’Moore County will have a standing start, and could be at a disadvantage as Offaly break into a gallop.
12. Laois (No change)
13. Kerry (-2)
That’s a wrap for 2016. Kerry have retained their Liam McCarthy status for 2017, but it could have been so much more. There will be much to build on next year, and Ciarán Carey and Co. will have realised that the top tier of hurling is not so scary.
14. Carlow (No change)
Carlow will be hurling in the Christy Ring Cup next year, after three losses from three games.
Manager Pat English will be disappointed, and frustrated with injuries and the fact that his best players weren’t available to him.