The provincial finals are set. There are only four unbeaten teams left in the All-Ireland Hurling Championship. The draw has been made for the qualifiers.
It’s time for us to reassess the power rankings on the hurling landscape.
1. Waterford (No change)
2. Kilkenny (No change)
Heading into the Leinster semi-final in Portlaoise last weekend, there were several questions-marks surrounding the Cats. They answered these emphatically.
Brian Cody’s juggernaut rolled on. Jonjo Farrell stepped up to score 1-5 against the Dubs, as the Cats blew their opponents away with a second half tour de force.
It will take a strong side to knock Kilkenny off their perch this season, and they look as imperious as ever.
3. Tipperary (No change)
Tipperary did not put in their greatest performance yesterday against Limerick, but considering that they won the game despite playing most of the game with 14 men, we can only be impressed.
Michael Ryan’s side got the job done in Thurles, and never looked to be in trouble. They march on to the Munster Final against Waterford, in a bid to retain their title.
With so few Munster champions reaching the All-Ireland final, it may not necessarily be the worst thing if Tipp were to lose against the Déise, if their end goal is to regain Liam McCarthy Cup.
4. Galway (+3)
The Tribesmen have quietly gone about their business in the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship, and now face Kilkenny in the final once again. While wins against Westmeath and Offaly were not unexpected, Mícheál Donoghue’s charges got the job done.
After a Winter of discontent and a Spring of failure, Galway now have a shot at redemption against the Cats.
However, another loss to Kilkenny would raise doubts whether this team can really reach their promised land. As it stands, there is not much to suggest that the Bob O’Keeffe Cup will be heading west of the Shannon.
5 Clare (-1)
6 Dublin (No change)
Ger Cunningham’s Dublin side went toe-to-toe with Kilkenny for the first half of their Leinster semi-final, but couldn’t live with the champs when the going got tough after the break.
Nonetheless, the Metropolitans will be happier than most teams heading into the qualifiers, with a solid performance against Wexford from which to draw hope.
The Dubs were found out against the Cats, and there is a clear gulf in class between themselves and the top teams. But must regroup if they are to navigate a path through the qualifiers. A trip to Páric Uí Rinn will be a difficult task, as the Rebels are likely to be bouncing back.
With both their minor and u21 sides in Leinster finals, it has been a good month for the small ball in the capital, but it is time to deliver at senior level.
7 Limerick (-2)
The Treaty were simple dismal against Tipp yesterday. One has to wonder what the score would be had John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer had not seen red in the first half. All over the field, the Treaty were bettered.
What has happened to the free-flowing hurling team that played with such abandon in 2013 and 2014? Where is the side that made a county dream?
It is a long way back for the Treaty, who start their qualifier campaign away to Westmeath.
8 Cork (No change)
9 Offaly (No change)
The Faithful were in no way embarrassed yesterday in their 10 point loss to Galway. At half-time the Faithful County were a point to the good, but much like Shane Lowry’s final round in the US Open, the hurlers just did not have enough in the tank to record a famous win.
However, losing John Egan was a killer blow, and the Westerners showed how a team should press home a numerical advantage in hurling.
Offaly now head to Wexford for the qualifiers, looking to repeat their League win.
10 Westmeath (No change)
11 Wexford (No change)
12 Laois (No change)
13 Kerry (No change)
14 Carlow (No change)