Kieran Kingston’s side have found their form in just the right time.
They were on the brink of failing to qualify from the Munster championship after they suffered bruising defeats to Limerick and Clare.
However, with their backs against the wall, the Rebels came out swinging and from seemingly nowhere churned out two inspirational performances against Waterford and Tipperary.
Despite some uncomfortable moments, they eventually proved too strong for Antrim to keep their hopes of a first All-Ireland title in 17 years well and truly alive.
Henry Shefflin’s Galway await in the quarter-final and momentum seems to be on the side of last year’s All-Ireland finalists despite the Tribesmen losing only one of their championship games with the Ballyhale Shamrocks man at the helm.
They’ve somewhat patched up their leaky defense and have finally found some much-needed fluidity in their forward line that has an endless amount of talent.
While their attacking force will be too much for a flakey Galway side to handle, a potential semi-final with Limerick is as far as they will go, but expect a closer affair than the counties last two championship encounters which Limerick won at a canter.
Verdict: They’ll defeat Galway in the quarter-final, but lose to Limerick in the semi-final.
There is no denying that the Leinster final defeat to Kilkenny was a huge shock to the system for Galway’s players, management and supporters alike.
Following an unbeaten run in the Leinster round robin phase, the westerners were stunned in Croke Park in the provincial final as all the flaws and weaknesses associated with Galway hurling were on show for the entire country to bear witness to.
They are now reliant on a talented, but nevertheless inexperienced manager to inspire them to the performances needed to compete at the tale end of the championship.
They have undoubtedly been the most improved side of the 2022 championship and have propelled themselves in the rankings when it comes to the main challengers that could bring Limerick’s recent dominance to an end.
An undefeated run in Munster followed by a performance to be proud of in the provincial decider against the All-Ireland champions has set them up for their greatest championship campaign since 2013.
Wexford stand in their way of a meeting with Kilkenny and provided they maintain the same level of performance throughout the duration of that clash, they should comfortably book their place in the semi-final.
Following Wexford comes the challenge of overpowering Brian Cody’s Kilkenny side, which may well be a far tougher obstacle than many would suggest.
Kilkenny will be ultra prepared by a management team who will almost certainly have learned from their failings in the 2020 and 2021 semi-finals against Waterford and Cork respectively.
If Clare don’t find a way to combat Kilkenny’s physicality and Tony Kelly is not afforded the opportunities that he has been given in recent games, a potential rematch with Limerick on the biggest day of them all will not come to fruition.
Verdict: The Banner will have too much for Wexford but will come unstuck in a titanic All-Ireland semi-final clash with Kilkenny.
Darragh Egan’s Wexford are the least likely team to lift the Liam MacCarthy Cup next month due to their lack of consistent showings in the provincial campaign.
A fortunate draw with Galway was followed by a home defeat to an average Dublin side. Despite a victory against Laois, hurling supporters across the country were astonished to discover that the 2019 Leinster champions had only managed a draw with Westmeath.
From the outside looking in, there was almost no chance that they would get the victory they needed in UPMC Nowlan Park against their neighbours to continue their championship venture.
A passionate display of hurling from the Yellowbellies ensued as they sent the travelling supporters wild in their rivals’ backyard.
A win against Kerry was no surprise and leaves them one game away from a trip to Croke Park.
The stars will have to align if they are to get the better of superior opposition in the form of Clare on Saturday. If they don’t find their best performance for quite some time, it may well be quite sometime before they participate in the biggest games that the summer has to offer.
Verdict: Clare will show that they are a better side than their counterparts and dump Wexford out of the championship in ruthless fashion.
The Leinster champions have been far from convincing. Not that they’ll care too much about that given they are two wins away from ending their wait for an All-Ireland title.
The first of those games will likely be against a red hot Clare team who will go into the semi-final as the favourites.
And that will suit Kilkenny perfectly. Few things in sport are as dangerous as a Kilkenny team coming into a big match under the radar and they will utilise that to their advantage when they prepare for, and contest a fourth consecutive semi-final.
By making it a dogfight from start to finish and allowing the game to become a war of attrition, the Cats will just about edge a thriller with Clare.
There will be no All-Ireland title, however.
Despite their 2019 victory against Limerick being the only defeat of consequence that the Treaty have suffered in the last four years, there is an argument to be made that Kilkenny have stagnated since then while Limerick have only gone from strength-to-strength.
Despite their never-say-die attitude and willingness to do whatever it takes to win, they simply don’t have enough in their arsenal to get the better of a Limerick side that more-and-more looks like the team to take over the reins of Kilkenny in the 2000s and 2010s as the great team of their era.
Verdict: They’ll come out on top against Clare in the All-Ireland final before falling valiantly to the near unbeatable Limerick in the decider.
If you have got this far, you will know that we think that the Treaty will become the second county this century to win three All-Ireland’s in-a-row.
They should beat Cork or Galway in the semi-final irrespective of the manner of the win.
Their All-Ireland final opponents will provide stern opposition, but as the years go by, Limerick are adding invaluable experience of winning big games and combining it with their unparalleled physicality and at times absurd skill levels.
The only team that can stop them are themselves. That is a possibility, as we seen in 2019 when they allowed Kilkenny to race into a double digits lead before they started to put their stamp on the game.
If they were to do that again, they will not win the All-Ireland but two more performances anywhere near their highest level will see them retain the Liam MacCarthy Cup and further add to their legacy as one of the great teams in recent history.
Verdict: Limerick to win the All-Ireland by getting the better of Cork and Kilkenny.
All-Ireland Championship predictions:
Quarter-finals – Cork and Clare to win
Semi-finals – Limerick and Kilkenny to win
Final – Limerick to win the All-Ireland
If you cannot wait for your team to throw in why not listen to Kilkenny great Charlie Carter as he joined Eddie Scally in the studio for The Clash Act to talk about everything from school days hurling to horse breeding to his 2003 exit at the top of the game.