The All-Ireland SHC semi-finals led to a shift in the pecking order at the top of our rankings, with the beaten provincial finalists coming out on top against the Leinster and Munster champions.
1. TIPPERARY (up 3)
Five points down and reduced to 14 men, the Premier County showed amazing spirit and resilience to battle back and beat Leinster champions Wexford in Sunday’s epic All-Ireland semi-final at Croke Park. Tipp made a real statement and will go into the final as slight favourites.
2. KILKENNY (up 1)
Brian Cody’s men continue to climb up the rankings and are now just one win away from top spot. Hit defending champions Limerick with an early blitz in their semi-final and held on gallantly for a magnificent victory. The Cats are back! Did they ever go away?
3. LIMERICK (down 2)
The Treaty County went into last weekend on a real high, as holders of the Munster championship, All-Ireland and national league. But, against a ravenous Kilkenny side, they paid the price for a slow start and a series of disappointing wides. It could all have been different if they got that ‘65’ at the end but, alas, their reign is over.
4. WEXFORD (down 2)
While the Model County had a magnificent year, they will spend the autumn months pondering what might have been. The Leinster champions had one foot in the All-Ireland final when Lee Chin netted to put them five points clear of Tipperary and with numerical advantage. But, surprisingly, they were found tactically wanting and let their opponents off the hook.
5. CORK (no change)
Outside of the four semi-finalists, the Rebels are still the best of the rest but they were a long way off the ultimate pace this year. Patrick Horgan was immense but they failed to reach the Munster final and were completely out-battled by Kilkenny.
6. LAOIS (no change)
The O’Moore County enjoyed a ridiculously successful end to the year, not only winning the Joe McDonagh Cup but also going on to dump Dublin out of the Liam McCarthy Cup the following weekend. That was a result and performance for the ages and they put it up to Tipperary, too. Eddie Brennan’s men have been absolutely amazing.
7. CLARE (no change)
Closed their Munster SHC programme with an excellent victory over Cork in Ennis and would have reached the All-Ireland series had Limerick beaten Tipperary the same day instead of keeping their powder dry for the provincial decider. Looking back in the cold light of day, the Banner County were decidedly unlucky that the Round Five meeting of Limerick and Tipperary was effectively a dead rubber.
8. DUBLIN (no change)
Things were going really well for the Dubs until they fluffed their lines against Laois. Probably would have relished a crack at Tipp but instead their failure to rise to the challenge in that preliminary quarter-final represented a disastrous end to their year.
9. GALWAY (no change)
The Bob O’Keeffe Cup holders crashed out of the championship when losing to Dublin at Parnell Park. Finished fourth on the table in the Leinster SHC and will be bitterly disappointed.
10. WATERFORD (no change)
The championship was an unmitigated disaster for Na Deise, who were out of contention after just three rounds. Suffered successive defeats to Clare, Tipperary, Limerick and Cork.
11. CARLOW (no change)
Colm Bonnar’s men failed to make an impact in the Leinster SHC, losing all four of their outings.
12. WESTMEATH (no change)
Joe Quaid’s side (he's since been let go) enjoyed a wonderful run to the final of the Joe McDonagh Cup, beating Offaly and Antrim along the way and scoring a superb draw with Laois before losing to the O’Moore County in the decider. Hit some brilliant scores against Cork in the preliminary All-Ireland SHC quarter-final at Mullingar.
13. MEATH (no change)
Emphatic winners of the Christy Ring Cup, the Royals beat London, Kildare, Roscommon, Derry and Down to take the silverware, racking up a series of huge tallies along the way.
14. ANTRIM (no change)
The Glensmen missed out narrowly on the Joe McDonagh Cup final, with victories over Kerry and Offaly sandwiched in between defeats to Laois and Westmeath.
15. KERRY (no change)
Inconsistency was the Kingdom’s greatest enemy but they can take a lot of encouragement from the victories over Westmeath and Offaly.
16. DOWN (no change)
The Ardsmen topped their group in the Christy Ring Cup and eased past Roscommon before running into a rampant Meath combination in the decider.
17. OFFALY (no change)
It’s still hard to believe that the Faithfuls will be in the Christy Ring Cup next year. But they managed to lose all four of their Joe McDonagh Cup matches – against Laois, Westmeath, Antrim and Kerry – and the unthinkable became a reality.
18. DERRY (no change)
Defeat to Wicklow possibly cost the Oak Leafers a place in the Christy Ring Cup final as it sent them on course for a semi-final meeting with Meath instead of Roscommon.
19. ROSCOMMON (no change)
Won two of their three group games but were beaten by Down in the last four of the Christy Ring Cup.
20. WICKLOW (no change)
Despite a heroic away victory over Derry in the third round, the Garden County lucklessly missed out on a place in the business end of the Christy Ring Cup by virtue of score difference.
21. KILDARE (no change)
Put it up to Roscommon in the first round and beat London in the third tier but their summer ended before the semi-finals.
22. SLIGO (no change)
The Yeats men captured the Nicky Rackard Cup, going through their group unbeaten and taking out Warwickshire at the semi-final stage before pipping Armagh in a thrilling decider.
23. ARMAGH (no change)
The Orchard County beat Monaghan and Longford and drew with Warwickshire to earn a Rackard Cup semi-final clash with Tyrone. After seeing off the Red Hands, they were denied by Sligo in injury time at Croke Park.
24. LONDON (no change)
Beat Donegal in the relegation play-off at Crossmaglen to retain their Christy Ring Cup status for 2020.
25. WARWICKSHIRE (no change)
Edged out by just four points by Sligo in their Nicky Rackard Cup semi-final.
26. TYRONE (no change)
The Red Hands were very close to winning a keenly-contested third-tier championship. Armagh only beat them by two points in the semi-final and the final between the Orchard County and Sligo could have gone either way.
27. DONEGAL (no change)
Went down fighting as their display against London in the Christy Ring relegation decider was impressive and they also put it up to neighbours Derry in the second round.
28. MAYO (no change)
Disappointed not to make the last four of the Nicky Rackard Cup but only won one of their three group games.
29. LONGFORD (no change)
Beating Monaghan proved to be the highlight of their summer. Retained their fourth-tier status.
30. MONAGHAN (no change)
Got the better of Louth in the relegation final so the Farney boys will be in the Nicky Rackard Cup again next summer.
31. LEITRIM (no change)
Seemed to come from nowhere to win the Lory Meagher Cup, beating Cavan and then Fermanagh in the group stage before avenging their only defeat of the summer against Lancashire in a riveting final at Croke Park.
32. LOUTH (no change)
Lost all four of their Nicky Rackard Cup outings and were relegated to the bottom tier.
33. LANCASHIRE (no change)
Reached the Lory Meagher Cup final but lost to Leitrim by a point.
34. FERMANAGH (no change)
Looked set for a Lory Meagher Cup final place after winning their opening two games but paid a heavy price for their five-point Round Three defeat to Leitrim and were squeezed out on score difference.
35. CAVAN (no change)
Didn’t win a game in the Lory Meagher Cup but gave it their best shot.
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