Na Piarsaigh back on top of hurling rankings

THE Limerick Leader rankings are updated after there were more shocks in round three of the Limerick senior hurling championship.

THE Limerick Leader rankings are updated after there were more shocks in round three of the Limerick senior hurling championship.

Jerome O’Connell ranked the teams from 1-16 ahead of the championship and now updates those on the rise and those on the decline after the group games reached a conclusion last weekend.

When the rankings were first listed ahead of the championship the rankings were Na Piarsaigh (1), Kilmallock (2), Emmets (3), Ahane (4), Adare (5), Patrickswell (6), Murroe-Boher (7), Doon (8), Croom (9), Bruree (10), Granagh-Ballingarry (11), South Liberties (12), Hospital-Herbertstown (13), Knockainey (14), Garryspillane (15), Effin (16).

Six of the top eight have made it through to the quarter-finals, while three of the bottom four are in the relegation play-offs.

1. Na Piarsaigh (up one place)

The champions looked back to form in their one-sided win over Croom. While the opposition was poor, the Caherdavin side hit 2-19 from play and their use of possession was swift and impressive. Greater tests lie ahead but the return of key players has seen Sean Stack’s side return to form at the right time after lacklustre performances against South Liberties and Hospital-Herbertstown earlier in the year.

2. Kilmallock (down one place)

There is no doubting that most predictions for eventual winners will include either Na Piarsaigh or Kilmallock. Tony Considine’s men were all-conquering before the mid-season break but there were some signs of frailties when falling to the late Ahane goal surge. Getting their best defensive line-up is paramount for The Balbec.

3. Emmets (no change)

Certainly Emmets were a disgrace last weekend. No matter the circumstances, not to have a full compliment of players on the field for the throw-in of a Limerick SHC game is unacceptable. But no rules were broken. And, Emmets have been one of the most consistent teams in the championship for four years and are chasing a fourth successive semi-final appearance.

4. Patrickswell (up one place)

Along with Na Piarsaigh, The Well are the only side in the championship that are unbeaten. Bit-by-bit they have moulded a new look to their team and the move of Eoin Foley to centre back has added steal to that area. They still lack experience is some sectors but when on top can punish teams with a lively attack.

5. Ahane (up seven places)

The biggest shock of the weekend was Ahane’s win over undefeated Kilmallock. They started brightly and then faded before finishing three goals in the closing 10-minutes to get the win they needed. Their never say die spirit should be matched by all. They are very strong around the middle third and can win sufficient possession to create opportunities.

6. Adare (up five places)

There is no doubt that Adare are only in the last eight with a helping hand from Bruree and Emmets. But perhaps the little stroke of luck will turn around a season that looked dead and buried. There is no doubting the talent in the panel and if they were to gel in the coming weeks, they could go one better than last year’s quarter-final.

7. Croom (down one place)

They were totally demoralised when goalkeeper Ger Flynn was sent off after 12-minutes against Na Piarsaigh and fell apart at the seams, thereafter. They are still to be back-to-back performances together this season but would be due a good game in the quarter-finals. That will be a game that can approach as underdogs and will need to restore pride after the heavy loss to Na Piarsaigh.

8. Garryspillane (down once place)

Finished level on points with Doon but advanced to the quarter-final by virtue of winning their clash in round one. Performances deserve a spot in the quarter-finals but the loss of Danny Hayes has removed an attacking threat and they now rely heavily on frees. Will have absolutely noting to loose in the quarter-finals when they play Emmets.

9. Murroe-Boher (down five places)

They were on a high after beating Ahane in round one and it was seen as atonement for last year. But low and behold, Ahane came back to bite them and again denied Ger Hegarty’s side a quarter-final place on scoring difference. It was the heavy defeat to Kilmallock that cost Murroe-Boher in the end.

10. Doon (down one place)

The opening round loss to Garryspillane proved costly. With great youth in their panel, they are perfectly positioned to use the County Cup as a building block for 2013.

11. South Liberties (up two places)

Reaching the quarter-finals was really an improbable in the final round of games, but they did what they had to and beat Hospital-Herbertstown to avoid a relegation battle. Have become the County Cup specialists and only have to win two games to lift the PS O’Riain Cup this year.

12. Bruree (up two places)

Must have been difficult in the half time dressing room to find out any chance of a quarter-final was gone. Yet they came out for the second half and beat Granagh-Ballingarry to avoid a relegation battle. Were back training Tuesday and can now hurl with some freedom in County Cup.

13. Granagh-Ballingarry (down five places)

The big losers after the final round of action. All they had to do was win and a quarter-final spot was there’s. But the sending off of Donal O’Grady was crucial as they fell away in the second half when they needed someone to offer experience and leadership to steady their ship.

14. Effin (down four places)

After doing so much great hurling, the newcomers only got one point on the group table and that was when an injury time Tommy Quaid free sailed to the net against Garryspillane to snatch a draw. Perhaps they deserve better but now face into the prospect of fighting for survival, which is new to this group of players.

15. Knockainey (up one place)

The only team to finish without a point but they showed some real improvement in their two point loss to Murroe-Boher. For the first time they got a return from their attack with 2-7 from play and Patrick Kirby wasn’t among the eight on the score sheet.

16. Hospital-Herbertstown (down one place)

Never built on the opening round draw with Croom when they scored goals aplenty. But since then scores from play have been hard to come by and in their second season back in the senior grade they face a relegation dogfight.