After a cracking day of hurling action in the race for the Liam McCarthy Cup, we sit down here in Pundit Arena HQ to figure out what this all means in the grand pecking order.
Who rises and who drops? It’s all here in the latest edition of the Pundit Arena Hurling Power Rankings.
1. Waterford (+1)
Job done for the Déise today, and emphatically so. They blew Clare away on the third time of asking, and were on top all over the field.
The raw intensity that Waterford brought to the table saw them get an edge over their opponents, and they never looked back following Maurice Shanahan’s early goal.
However, one worry for the Déise in this writer’s mind is their reliance on scores from long-range. While their accuracy was impeccable today, the percentages suggest that they will not be able to keep this up for three/four more games, and we may see a repeat of the drawn League final at some stage.
Nonetheless, Derek McGrath’s side put on a clinic of hurling today, and they are the premier team in the country as it stands.
2. Kilkenny (+1)
3. Tipperary (+1)
4. Clare (-3)
Things just did not go right for the Banner today. Wides cost them, and Davy Fitzgerald finds himself with a lot of work to do.
Tony Kelly, who is arguably the best hurler in the country on his day, was playing far too deep and did not hold enough of a threat to the Déise rearguard. Hats must go off to Davy, Donal Óg, Paul Kinnerk et al. for trying something different, but it did not work and they must be held accountable.
In the broader picture, the ramifications of today’s result are massive; Waterford have to only win one of two games to reach an All-Ireland semi-final, while Clare must record three consecutive wins.
5. Limerick (No change)
6. Dublin (No change)
7. Galway (No change)
Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
Had Galway struggled today against Westmeath, there would have been questions raised. They ran out convincing winners on a scoreline of 3-27 to 0-19, so ‘it was only Westmeath’.
With 11 different scorers, manager Mícheál Donoghue will be a happy man with his Tribe, but bigger tests lie ahead.
8. Cork (No change)
9. Offaly (+2)
Only a few weeks ago, the Faithful lost to Westmeath by double scores. Today, they recorded a third consecutive championship win, and find themselves in the Leinster semi-final.
Shane Dooley was once again immense, as they put their neighbours to the sword, 3-22 to 2-14.
Things now get a lot tougher with Galway next up, and most likely a Munster side in the qualifiers if they lose. The Championship has been a success up to this point, but it will be important not to succumb to a heavy defeat from here on.
10. Westmeath (-1)
The Lake County was ‘rewarded’ for topping the Round Robin with a quarter-final against Galway.
In a strange way, perhaps the success of their u21 team did them no favours today, as some (including this writer) quietly fancied them to get close to Galway. The Tribesmen were also on high alert, and were ready; putting Westmeath to the sword.
Michael Ryan’s side will not fear the qualifiers, and will back themselves to cause a big upset.
11. Wexford (-1)
12. Laois (No change)
The fact that Offaly were coming into today off the back of three Championship matches caught Laois flat-footed. Cheddar Plunkett’s side were well beaten in Tullamore.
PJ Scully showed his worth, but it’s the qualifiers once again for the O’Moore County.
13. Kerry (No change)
14. Carlow (No change)