Kilmallock, Patrickswell and Doon the obvious threats to Na Piarsaigh’s crown | Limerick SHC Power Rankings

With only a couple of days to go, we look at the SHC power rankings before a ball has been pucked.

The Limerick Senior Hurling Championship is back this weekend with twelve teams fighting it out for the Daly Cup.

Na Piarsaigh are the defending champions and once again appear the team to beat with seven of the last 12 titles going the way of the Caherdavin men.

Adare are the last side outside of Nap, Kilmallock and Patrickswell to win the championship, their most recent victory coming back in 2009.

Last year, South Liberties broke the strangle hold on the final four which had been dominated by the big three and Doon who had made up the semis for five successive seasons.

With only a couple of days to go, we look at the SHC power rankings before a ball has been pucked.

12. Garryspillane

Finished second from bottom in last year’s SHC group two and the Bouncers will be looking for an improved campaign in the top tier. Are the bookies outsiders at 100/1 but the South side will be confident of causing an upset after failing to really make a mark since promotion in 2018.

11. Mungret St Pauls

Into their second year in the senior ranks, more will be expected of the 2021 Premier Intermediate champions. Only picked up a pair of wins last time out but those came against the eventual top two, Kildimo Pallaskenry and South Liberties.

Much will depend on that first round clash with Liberties where they will back themselves to upset the odds.

10. Monaleen

14 January 2023; Mark O’Dwyer of Monaleen celebrates after scoring a point during the AIB GAA Hurling All-Ireland Intermediate Championship Final match between Monaleen of Limerick and Tooreen of Mayo at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

The All-Ireland intermediate champions return to the senior ranks after a year away. They will be keen to get going after finding a winning rhythm last year that resulted in them going all the way to Croke Park.

Have a number of exciting young players behind the wheel and won’t lack in confidence after an incredible 2022.

9. South Liberties

Broke the monopoly on the top four last year as they shocked Patrickswell in the quarter-finals. Were comfortably dispatched by the eventual champions but reaching the last four was a successful season in itself.

In Barry Nash, they have one of the best players in the country but squad depth may be an issue for them. Another place in the top two would represent a good year for the Liberties.

8. Adare

Declan Hannon escapes with possession despite the attention of Cian Lynch in the 2020 Limerick SHC clash between Adare and Patrickswell. CREDIT: Sport Action Photography

Back in tier two after just one season among the very best, the goal for Adare will be to top the table and ensure another promotion. A top two berth will be the very minimum for the West side who will be sweating on the fitness of Declan Hannon.

Have a number of players also involved with the senior footballers in the club as they face into four successive weeks of action. Need to get off to a winning start against Garryspillane.

7. Ballybrown

After reaching the quarter finals and earning promotion in 2020, Ballybrown have failed to really kick on as they prepare for a second season in group two. Started like a train last time out but couldn’t maintain that as they finished outside the quarter-final spots.

Blessed with young talent that won all before them in the underage ranks including All-Ireland winning duo Colin Coughlan and Aidan O’Connor, anything but promotion will be a disappointment.

6. Kildimo Pallaskenry

There’s no arguing Kildimo Pallaskenry’s status as the success story of Limerick hurling over the last decade. Na Piarsaigh have won seven titles in 12 years but KP’s rise through the ranks has been as impressive, winning the Intermediate championship as recently as 2017.

They claimed the Premier Intermediate title in 2020 and were the County Cup champions the following season. Last year they earned promotion to the very top tier for the first time and will fear no one.

In Kyle Hayes they have one of the very best in the country and a man that rarely fails to deliver at club level. First game with Ahane is crucial.

5. Ahane

Ahane’s ability to stay at the top table has been admirable as they have staved off a number of relegation battles since their promotion four years ago. Like KP, that first round clash is vital but could provide the perfect platform for them to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 2019.

They are buoyed by All-Star duo Dan and Tom Morrissey who have also been exceptional with their club over the seasons.

8 August 2020; Dan Morrissey of Ahane in action against Gavin O’Mahony of Kilmallock during the Limerick County Senior Hurling Championship Section A Group 2 Round 3 match between Kilmallock and Ahane at LIT Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

4. Doon

The previous eight will all hold their own ambitions but the top four are in a league of their own with Doon appearing in six successive semi-finals. Reaching two finals in that time, the East Limerick club have yet to break through the glass ceiling and win a maiden title.

Their standard of player compares favourably with any other club but the loss of Richie English is a huge blow. Nonetheless, Darragh O’Donovan, All-Star in waiting, Barry Murphy and Adam English were all part of the match day squad against Kilkenny and will provide real firepower. How they cope with the loss of Richie will go a long way in determining how they fare.

Won the league without any of the inter county boys but the real test will be Kilmallock again in round one of the championship.

3. Patrickswell

Doon are rightly mentioned in the top four where there is a gulf but between the top three they have won each of the last 13 titles on offer. A pair of those have gone the way of Patrickswell who are on the verge of becoming the first club to have three successive Hurler of the Years with Aaron Gillane to be crowned later this year.

Limerick Senior Hurling Championship Final, LIT Gaelic Grounds, Limerick 6/10/2019 Patrickswell vs Na Piarsaigh Patrickswell’s Cian Lynch celebrates Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

Cian Lynch and Diarmaid Byrnes would make any XV in the country and on their day are the best in the business. The City side are also boosted by the arrival of Evan Fitzgerald and will be keen to make up for a lacklustre 2022.

First up is the reigning champions which will tell a lot.

2. Kilmallock

The 2021 champions and runners up from last year again seemed best poised to usurp the resident kingpins Na Piarsaigh as the season looms. As is the case across the top four, the standard of player at their disposal is otherworldly with the likes of Micheal Houlihan, Graeme Mulcahy, Oisin O’Reilly and Aaron Costllo to choose from.

Barry Hennessy is still the premier goalkeeper in the division while in Shane O’Brien they have one of the most exciting talents to come out of the county in a long time. Added to that is a blend of seasoned senior club players and they have all the ingredients to launch an assault on the Daly Cup.

Interestingly, in winning the county in 2021, they started off with a loss and a late victory before thundering into the competition in the knockout stages. How they approach this year will be known on Saturday evening against Doon.

1. Na Piarsaigh

Another year but still the same team at the top of the Limerick Senior Hurling Championship as Na Piarsaigh are once again the club to beat for the Daly Cup. Since their maiden success back in 2011, Na Piarsaigh have added six more, never going more than two years without in that time.

Last year in the final they showed an incredible standard of hurling and pushed Ballygunner all the way in Munster. That loss will have struck a nerve but they cannot look past Limerick, such is the standard of opposition.

In William O’Donoghue and the Casey brothers Mike & Peter, they have three players operating at the very highest level. Outside of that they can call on the likes of Shane Dowling, Ronan Lynch, the Boylan brothers, Adrian Breen and perennial club player of the year candidate David Dempsey.

Favourites for a reason.

30 October 2022; Na Piarsaigh captain William O’Donoughue celebrates with the cup and teammates after the Limerick County Senior Club Hurling Championship Final match between Kilmallock and Na Piarsaigh at the TUS Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photo by Ben McShane/Sportsfile

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