Limerick stay on top with the best of the rest unclear | Power Rankings

Five Munster and six Leinster teams make up the top ten, with no surprise as to who is top.

As the 2023 championship draws to a close, Limerick remain the team to beat after retaining their title for the fourth successive season. The Shannonsiders, despite a blip in Munster remained atop the power rankings throughout the year as we take a look at the final edition prior to the club championship kick off.

John Kiely’s men defeated Kilkenny after a powerful All-Ireland final performance last Sunday, to make it four on the bounce, and it’s no surprise they top the rankings, but how do the others fare?

11 – Carlow

In eleventh place are Carlow, who qualified for the All-Ireland series in 2024 having won the Joe McDonagh cup, defeating Offaly in the final by a single point.

All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Quarter-Final, Netwatch Cullen Park, Carlow 7/7/2018 Carlow vs Limerick Limerick’s Aaron Gillane in action against Carlow’s Kevin McDonald Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ken Sutton

Carlow faced Dublin in the preliminary round to qualify for the quarters, and despite the Dubs coming into the game as strong favourites, Carlow gave a good account of themselves.

They are deserving of any plaudits for that performance, especially when compared to Offaly’s clash with Tipperary at the same stage.

They will be up against it in next year’s championship but are full value for their place in the Liam MacCarthy

10- Antrim

It was a decent year for Antrim who consolidated their place in the Leinster championship with a win over Westmeath on the final day of the championship.

Darren Gleeson’s side will have been full of hope having managed a draw with Dublin in the opening round, but they failed to pick up another point until that final round victory.

The Saffrons received heavy beatings at the hands of Kilkenny and Galway, and lost to Wexford by five points, and there is still a substantial gulf between them and the rest of the pack in Leinster.

9 – Waterford

A very disappointing year for Davy Fitzgerald’s men, who lost every game in Munster apart from a shock win over Tipperary in the final round. They have fallen behind the pack in their province, and in the entire country really.

However, they will be happy to be written off ahead of a winter under the guidance of the Clare native.

The Tipperary result will give them confidence but no doubting that big improvements are needed, especially in the round robin where they have won just twice in four seasons.

8 – Wexford

Wexford had a similarly uninspiring year to Waterford, especially by their high standards of recent seasons.

Akin to the Deise, the Yellow Bellies picked up a surprise win in the final round of their province, defeating Kilkenny by two points.

It meant little, as Wexford were still eliminated with only one other victory to their name, against Antrim. Had they been defeated by the Cats they would have potentially faced relegation.

Wexford have a lot of work to do and are on the lookout for a new manager.

7 – Dublin

Micheal Donoghue’s side finished third in the Leinster championship, picking up an impressive win over Wexford, as well as a draw with beaten finalists Galway.

While the Dubs proved too much for Carlow in the preliminary round, they faced a tougher test in the quarter-final stage in Clare, who were much too strong for them.

However, Dublin remain a strong side who are capable of an upset, which is why they come in at number seven. They also have an easier path to the knockout stages as opposed to the likes of Waterford but are very reliant on Donal Burke.

6 – Tipperary

21 May 2023; Declan Hannon of Limerick scores a point under pressure from Séamus Kennedy of Tipperary during the Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Round 4 match between Tipperary and Limerick at FBD Semple Stadium in Thurles, Tipperary. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Heading into the final round of the Munster championship, Tipperary must have been looking forward to a Munster final as all they had to do was avoid defeat against an already eliminated Deise.

They didn’t and their season petered out from here despite some great promise. Liam Cahill’s side cruised through the Offaly tie, but they couldn’t turn it around a week later as Galway saw them exit the championship.

In truth, the Premier never got going in the Gaelic Grounds, limping out of the championship in disappointing fashion.

Their 2023 was a major improvement on the previous edition of the championship but how it came to an end will irk Tipp who know how difficult it will be to get out of Munster next term.

5 – Cork

Cork are a team who didn’t feature in the last round of Power Rankings, as thy didn’t make it out of Munster, but they come in at fifth following the seasons end.

The Rebels were very unlucky not to come out of the province, losing to Limerick by just a point in the final round, putting an end to their campaign.

That game could have gone either way, and had Cork gotten through that day, the championship would have looked so much different.

The Rebels drew with Tipperary, and lost to both Clare and Limerick by the minimum. In their other outing, they were far too good for Waterford.

They are every bit as good as their Munster counterparts, and with an All-Ireland U20 team coming through it is a matter of when not if for the Rebels.

4 – Galway

8 July 2023; Conor Whelan of Galway is tackled by Dan Morrissey of Limerick during the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship semi-final match between Limerick and Galway at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

In the end, it was a disappointing year for the Tribesmen. Having their hearts broken in the final seconds of the Leinster final by Cillian Buckley, Henry Shefflin’s Galway had a rather successful year before that, topping the table after the round robin stage before putting in a very good performance in the final.

Shefflin’s side held a two point lead in the dying stages, only to be struck down by what was Buckley’s first ever goal for the Cats.

Like Tipperary, the manner of their provincial finale seemed to stir within them and while they got through the Premier in the quarters, they looked a shadow of the side that pushed Limerick all the way in 2022.

Against the same opposition in this year’s last four, the Tribesmen looked good early on and led by as many as six in the first half. But that all came crumbling down after a half hour with Limerick eventually running out nine point winners.

They will look to themselves as one of Limerick’s leading challengers next year but they look as far from the Treaty as they have since this run started.

3 – Clare

Clare and Kilkenny could trade places at two and three, the pair are the closest challengers to Limerick’s dominance.

The Banner fall behind due to their semi-final loss to the Cats, in which a number of their stars failed to turn up in the three point loss.

If you ask did Clare have a successful year, the answer has to be no.

Defeat to Limerick on Munster final day was tough to take for the Banner faithful, but they should have given themselves another chance at the Shannonsiders in the All-Ireland final.

The win over Dublin was to be expected in the quarters, the real test was the Cats in the semi, and they failed to get the job done.

A promising year from the Banner it’s fair to say, but not a success, and they take third spot.

2 – Kilkenny

For yet another year, it is the Cats who faced Limerick on All-Ireland final day. Like 2022, the result was the same but the margin was far more stark this time around with the Shannonsiders rampant in the decider.

Winning Leinster in such dramatic fashion will be the highlight of the year for Kilkenny, and their semi-final win over Clare is what earns them second spot.

The performance against Limerick in the final was brilliant to start but Derek Lyng admitted himself it was tough to stop the Shannonside momentum once it picked up.

23 July 2023; Diarmaid Byrnes of Limerick in action against Tom Phelan of Kilkenny during the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship final match between Kilkenny and Limerick at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

Perhaps they will feel they could have done a bit better to halt the Limerick train that took off in the second half last weekend, but for a side working under a new manager, they had a good year.

New faces made their impact with Tom Phelan their standout player in the final. Eoin Cody took over as the teams key forward while Mikey Butler is likely to win another All-Star. As the dust settles on the final, so will the pain of defeat against the best team of all-time.

The Cats will definitely be back to challenge Limerick again next year but how damaging will the All-Ireland final loss be?

1 – Limerick

It’s no surprise Limerick are on top, four All-Ireland wins in a row, this is one of, if not the greatest sides we have ever seen.

It wasn’t easy this year, enduring a shaky spell in Munster before exploding into life in their Croke Park games.

To win five Munster titles in a row, and the four Liam MacCarthy cups on the bounce, is quite an achievement, and everyone involved should be proud.

The question is, who can stop them?

The Shannonsiders are comfortable in their top spot in our Power Rankings and will occupy the same position in the minds of anyone in the nation.

Next year they will look to create even more history, as they aim for the fifth All-Ireland win in a row. That would cement themselves as the greatest team of all time no question but for now, it’s time celebrate one of the greats.

23 July 2023; Cian Lynch, left, and Kyle Hayes of Limerick celebrate after the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship final match between Kilkenny and Limerick at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

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