Power Rankings: Six Teams remain in the hunt for All-Ireland honours

Just like that, the hunt for Liam MacCarrthy is down to six with the quarter-finals penciled in for this Saturday.

Provincial champions Limerick and Kilkenny are safely through to the last four and await the winners of this weekend’s games.

On Saturday, Waterford meet Tipperary while Cork face Dublin.

With just six sides remaining in the hunt, we examine the contenders in the Power Rankings below!

6. Dublin

Prior to the Leinster final against Kilkenny, things couldn’t have got worse for Mattie Kenny’s side with three players ruled out due to Covid 19. And the game was less than a quarter of an hour old when the Dubs lost Eoghan O’Donnell to injury.

Nonetheless, the capital side never really looked like troubling Kilkenny with the nine point loss almost flattering such was the Cats dominance.

Yet, the Dubs will come into this Saturday’s quarter-final with a clean slate, having last reached the semi-final stage in 2013.

But if they are to overcome Cork, they will need their best performance of the year.

5. Tipperary

The extent of the damage inflicted by the manner of the Munster final loss to Limerick will be seen on Saturday when Tipp take on Waterford. Tipperary led by as many as ten points at half time against the Shannonsiders but found themselves level at the second water break of the day.

In the end the margin was five points, with Mark Kehoe’s goal putting some respectability on the scoreline. A second heavy Munster final defeat in three years will put huge doubt in the minds of Liam Sheedy’s men.

18 July 2021; Kyle Hayes of Limerick celebrates scoring his side’s second goal , in the 54th minute, as John O’Dwyer, 12, and Cathal Barrett of Tipperary look on, during the Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Final match between Limerick and Tipperary at Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

But after the defeat in 2019, the Premier responded by winning the All-Ireland title.

Waterford this Saturday will say a lot If they can produce a similar comeback.

4. Cork

Were it not for Patrick Collins’ last heroics, Kieran Kingston’s men would have been watching on from the sidelines this weekend. It was a game that Cork should have never lost, having held the lead of the Banner for the majority of the contest, yet they will count their stars that they are into the quarter-finals.

However, a win like that can often spur a team into life and that will be the hope on Leeside.

Cork’s attacking firepower will always give them a chance and in Patrick Horgan, they have the highest ever points scorer currently active. But their performance against Limerick will still weigh heavily on the mind.

Mark Coleman escapes with the sliotar in the Munster Senior Hurling Championship semi-final between Limerick and Cork. Photo Credit Aidan Ryan

The win over Clare will give them the advantage over the Dubs who have been waiting in the wings since the Leinster final loss.

It’s advantage Cork, but only just.

3. Waterford

Whether you think Waterford were awesome, Galway were woeful, or some mixture of the two, for the Deise to put up 1-18 in the first half of a game against the Tribesmen takes some hurling. Liam Cahill’s men looked back to their scintillating best that saw them into the All-Ireland final last year.

The return of Jamie Barron seemed to invigorate the side with the Bennett brothers in the half back line dovetailing brilliantly.

Allianz Hurling League Division 1B, Walsh Park, Co. Waterford 10/3/2019 Waterford vs Galway Waterford’s Jamie Barron and Galway’s Gearoid McInerney Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ken Sutton

Yet, the manner of their second half collapse that almost saw them lose a 16-point lead will be worrying for Cahill and co.

But when on form, the Deise looked best poised to take on the top two. Albeit they have the small task of Tipperary to contend with first.

2. Kilkenny

The top two seem to be a bit ahead of the rest with Brian Cody’s Kilkenny slotting in at second place on the list. Their Leinster final performance was old school Kilkenny as they smothered their opponents, caring little for the off-field issues of the Dubs.

Adrian Mullen looks back to his best after a year out with an ACL injury, as TJ Reid continues to defy time. Four of their five substitutes got on the scoresheet against Dublin with an impressive array of scoring options for Cody to choose from.

GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Quarter-Final, Croke Park, Dublin 14/7/2019 Kilkenny vs Cork Kilkenny manager Brian Cody celebrates at the final whistle Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Gary Carr

Yet, it is at the back where they look most impressive with the full back line of Tommy Walsh, Huw Lawlor and Paddy Deegan looking impenetrable in front of Eoin Murphy.

But the team ahead of team is quickly starting to imitate the great Kilkenny sides of the 00’s.

1. Limerick

On their day, there is no one that can compete with John Kiely’s side. Their 18-minute blitz of Tipperary in the Munster final will live long in the memory as Kiely’s men turned a ten point deficit into a healthy lead.

In Cian Lynch, they have the form player in the country, while Kyle Hayes is arguably the most dangerous, despite his positioning in the half back line.

The Shannonsiders are littered with stars throughout the field and appear to have a bulletproof gameplan.

With three weeks from the Munster final to the All-Ireland semi-final, there is potential for a team to shock the Treaty men, as Kilkenny did in 2019.

However, that is a case of ifs and buts.

The 2020 champions look better than ever and are the undisputed team to beat.

18 July 2021; Cian Lynch of Limerick celebrates after the Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Final match between Limerick and Tipperary at Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

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