The 2019 GAA season is upon us!
Last year Limerick captured thier first All-Ireland title in 45-years as the counyt united as one to celebrate John Kiely and his side.
Limerick entered the year given little chance but proved to be the cream of the crop defeating the then reigning champions Galway in the final on a magical day in August.
Ahead of this years League kick-off, we look at the hurling power rankings.
With the standard so high, there is very little to choose between the teams but here goes.
*McDonagh cup teams are not included. This ranking scheme is restricted to participants in the Munster and Leinster championships.
It will be Carlow’s maiden year in the Leinster championship after they defeated Westmeath to win the McDonagh Cup last year. They were well beaten by Limerick in the provisional quarter finals in 2018 but will look to build on this success. However, first up for them in Leinster are Galway and Kilkenny. They are 1000/1 to win it out.
Much was expected of Dublin last year with the appointment of Pat Gilroy, with many hoping he could do a similar job to the one he did whilst in charge of the county’s football team. As things panned out it was a very disappointing season for the capitals side who are now under the tutelage of Mattie Kenny who guided Cuala to back to back All-Ireland club titles. They are similarly priced to Carlow.
With Derek McGrath no longer in charge, it will be an interesting year for Waterford. He guided the county to their first All-Ireland final appearance since 2008 in 2016 but failed to build on it in his final year in charge with Waterford failing to pick up a win in the championship last summer. A new manager might usher in a new system, away from McGraths which they became so accustomed to and may see the Deise struggle. The fact they must play their Munster Championship games away from home does not help their cause.
Wexford will be extremely disappointed with how they limped out of the championship last summer at the hands of Clare in Pairc Ui Chaoimh. Davy Fitz men simply never got out of the starting blocks that day after a promising start to the campaign. They were a late Kilkenny comeback away from contesting a second consecutive Leinster final, something which Fitzgerald can build on for 2019. On their day they can cause an upset, but the depth of the squad will be tested once again the further into the championship they find themselves.
2018 saw Clare play a competitive game in Croke Park for the first time since their All Ireland win in 2013 with majority of the team still playing from the epic win over Cork. They will look to build on their semi-final clashes where they pushed the then defending all Ireland champions all the way in Croke Park and also in the replay in Thurles. They also carry the distinction as the only team to defeat Limerick in the championship last summer. With Tony Kelly in their side, they are a match for any team on their day.
Brian Cody can never be written off. However, Kilkenny are not the force they once were. It is 2015 since their last All-Ireland triumph which is a drought in a county that have 36 national titles. The Leinster side are still in transition under Cody with the likes of TJ Reid and Richie Hogan pushing towards the twilight of their careers. Yet, with the James Stephens’ man in charge anything is possible for this side. They pushed standard bearers Galway and Limerick all the way last year in their solitary losses and cannot be overlooked heading into 2019.
After such a disappointing year where they failed to make it out of Munster, Liam Sheedy is back in charge of Tipperary. His appointment should provide the lift needed in Tipp to see the county re-establish itself as one of the powers in hurling. In his first term as manager, Sheedy delivered two Munster Championships and a first All-Ireland title in almost a decade in his three years in charge. With the likes of Seamus Callanan, Jason Forde, the Maher’s and McGraths at his disposal, Tipperary could well go a long way in this championship.
Last summer Galway narrowly missed out on retaining the
title they won for the first time in 29 years after defeat to Limerick in the All-Ireland
final in August. They enter the 2019 season as favourites with both Paddy Power
and William Hill, listed at 5/2 by both sites. Their starting XV is regarded as
the best in the country and with several minor championships annexed in the past
few years, some added ammunition from the bench could be the difference for
Galway this year. A rematch of last year’s final could well be on the cards.
Back to back semi-final appearances as well as consecutive
Munster titles prove that Cork are moving in the right direction. However, at
the penultimate stage in the previous two years have seen them lose to Munster
rivals, with last seasons semi-final leaving a particularly sour taste in the
mouths of rebels who saw their side lose a six-point advantage to Limerick in
the final to minutes. In John Meyler’s third year in charge, Liam MacCarthy is
sure to be their focus, with Munster titles proving fruitless in ’16 and ’17.
The return of Alan Cadogan could be the difference for Cork this year.
The reigning champions are our favourites to retain Liam MacCarthy in 2019. Despite holding the title, Limerick are third favourites to win the crown once again in the bookies eyes with William Hill having them at 5/1 to win the championship. Such is the youthful nature of the squad, it is questioned how Limerick will react to having a target on their back, having been largely written off coming into 2018. However, this will be music to John Kiely’s ears as preparations for the League heat up. Such is the depth of quality in the side, there is no shortage of competition for places and should help Limerick in their quest to retain the Liam MacCarthy for the first time in their history.