All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship preview: Who will win Liam MacCarthy Cup?
Last Updated: 07/05/19 7:17am
Ahead of the race for the Liam MacCarthy Cup, the Sky Sports GAA team take a look at the landscape of the All-Ireland Hurling Championship.
All eyes will be on Limerick, as the Treaty look to defend their title having ended a 45-year wait in 2018. However, there are numerous credible contenders snapping at their heels.
Reigning Leinster champions Galway have been dealt a significant injury blow with the news that Joe Canning is out until mid-July. Kilkenny, Wexford and Dublin will all be confident of overtaking the Tribesmen, while newly-promoted Carlow will be aiming to give a solid account of themselves.
Ollie Canning: "I think it's going to be very interesting. Kilkenny will get a bit of a bounce with Ballyhale Shamrocks winning the club series. Probably three or four of them will come into the Cats' team. I think it's very balanced this year.
"Kilkenny v Dublin will set the tone for the Leinster Championship. I'd be very interested to see how Dublin progress under Mattie Kenny. They showed signs during the league that they're making progress.
"There are three places for Galway, Kilkenny, Wexford and Dublin. There's no guarantees, which is great for the Leinster Championship."
Jamesie O'Connor: "It's a big year for Davy Fitzgerald. Dublin went to Wexford Park last year and probably feel they left that game after them. Wexford finished strong. But Wexford have to go to Parnell Park this year, and they have to go to Salthill. Kilkenny will go to Wexford Park and that's a massive match.
"Leinster is going to be every bit as competitive as Munster. Davy is probably under a bit of pressure to ensure Wexford are one of the three teams to emerge."
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The Munster Championship is wide open. Last year, Tipperary and Waterford finished bottom of the pile but will be aiming to bounce back under new management. Cork are gunning for three provincial titles in succession, Limerick are sizing up the one competition that eludes them while Clare will feel they can take the next step after coming so close in 2018.
Jamesie O'Connor: "It's three years since Tipperary were top dogs in 2016. The age profile of the team, you look at Seamus Callanan, Padraic Maher, Brendan Maher, Bonner Maher - the window for those guys winning a third All-Ireland is closing.
"If it doesn't happen this year, then there's a complete rebuilding job for Tipperary. For me, it's the most intriguing aspect - can Sheedy manage to get the best out of that group of players and get one more All-Ireland out of them? They've got to go to Páirc Uí Chaoimh in the opening game, and that's a massive game for Tipperary.
JJ Delaney: "I like the way Limerick set out their stall, even for the league which they took very, very seriously. They beat every team they could.
"They won the All-Ireland last year. They don't seem to be happy with just that. They want to win the league, the Munster Championship, and the Liam MacCarthy as well. They have a system of play that whoever beats them need to figure out how to break it down.
"They're putting a bit of fear into every team. They used the league to say, 'we're not going away'. They're physically very strong. They have a panel, guys who can come off a bench. Shane Dowling and these guys, they're not just happy to come on. They want to start as well.
"Whoever beats them will go on to win the championship."
Ollie Canning: "I think Limerick are in as good a position as anyone. They're young, they're very enthusiastic. I like what I'm hearing. They seem to be very, very focused.
"Aaron Gillane got man of the match in the league final, and he was looking back, he seemed disappointed with his performance. That just shows the mindset of these players. Even after getting man of the match, he was still critical of his performance.
"That comes from management. John Kiely and the management team seem to be keeping the Limerick players very grounded. The only fear I have for them is it's going to be a very long, hard championship to get back to a final. But they went very well in the league. If they can maintain that standard, throughout the standard, they're young enough to do it, they are the team to do it."
JJ Delaney: "The finalists I think will be the same as last year - Galway and Limerick. The reason I say that is I think Galway, with Joe missing, the other players need to step up to the mark. Joe has been a vital cog within that wheel. Somebody else needs to take up the mantle. If they get through the Leinster Championship, a fresh Joe will be coming back into the quarter-final, semi-final stage, Galway will have a major say.
"But I think it will be a Galway-Limerick final, and Limerick to win it again."
Jamesie O'Connor: "I think it will be two Munster teams in the final. If Limerick are beaten somewhere along the way in Munster, I think they've a better chance of winning the All-Ireland. They were the third team to come out of Munster last year. That's not a bad position to come from.
"Cork, more than anyone, will have a lot of regrets from last year. They still have a lot of good players. They've looked to strengthen the panel throughout the winter. If they can beat Tipp in the first round, I think Cork will make it there. But Limerick are deservedly favourites, and they're still the team to beat."
Sky Sports' live GAA coverage gets underway on Saturday, May 11 as Dublin face Kilkenny in the Leinster Hurling Championship opener.