It’s a decade since both Liam MacCarthy and Sam Maguire were retained in the one year.

In 2007 Kilkenny kept hold of their All-Ireland hurling championship title and a few weeks later Kerry put together back-to-back All-Ireland crowns.

This year Tipperary and Dublin will be attempting to do the same, but significant stumbling blocks stand in their way before they can climb the steps of the Hogan Stand again

We’ll start with hurling and there are a few more question marks hanging around Tipp than there were just before the League final.

Little over a month ago Michael Ryan’s team appeared to be in fine fettle and set to sweep aside the opposition on the way to doing the double. Galway had other ideas.

The likes of Richie Hogan, TJ Reid and Michael Fennelly are still there to lead the way, but they haven’t got the kind of support staff that sustained the glory days

The Tribesmen pulled one of those performances out of the bag which they have proved they are occasionally capable of - doing it on a consistent basis has long been their problem - and they won by 16 points.

Now doubts surround the Premier County as they try to retain an All-Ireland for the first time since the sixties. Had they started to believe their own hype? Was it just a blip? Is this the shock they need to jolt them back to their best? 

The reality is that, at this moment in time, Tipperary still look to be the best team in the country.

Tipp's Padraic Maher clears his lines

The chasing pack is comprised of Kilkenny, Galway and Waterford with the likes of Clare, Cork, Limerick, Wexford and Dublin a further notch below.

The Cats are probably at their most vulnerable since Brian Cody took over before the start of the 1999 season and powered them to eleven All-Ireland titles.

The likes of Richie Hogan, TJ Reid and Michael Fennelly are still there to lead the way, but they haven’t got the kind of support staff that sustained the glory days.

Waterford have enormous potential and that’s where they are parked at the moment. Until they win a really big game - a Munster final or a Championship clash in Croke Park - their credentials will remain unverified.

Galway hammered Tipp in the League, but can they produce anything similar during the summer? Who knows.

Of the second tier teams, Wexford look the best placed to muscle their way to the top table and a Leinster title this year would be a massive achievement for Davy Fitzgerald. It isn’t beyond them, but Kilkenny are just one of the teams that stand directly in their way.

Ultimately, Tipp have the players and they have the manager. If they can stay injury free a defence marshalled by the Maher brothers can keep opponents out while at the other end of the field their razor sharp inside line can rip any team to shreds.

Galway captain David Burke with the League trophy

We’ll be losing something next year which we may never get back and that’s All-Ireland finals in September. From 2018, on a three-year experimental basis that is likely to be extended, the showpiece games will be brought forward to August.

And who will be playing in the last September football final, for the time being at least? A lot of water has to travel under a lot of bridges before we’ll find that out for sure, but the betting money is going on a Dublin-Kerry showdown.

If the draws go according to plan that’s what will happen, with Connacht-Munster and Leinster-Ulster semi-finals already in the fixture schedule.

Leinster and Munster, sadly, seem to be done deals, with no one able to touch the Dubs and the Kingdom in their home provinces.

Connacht looks like a shootout between Mayo and Galway, the Green Above the Red hungry to win back the Nestor Cup after the Tribesmen denied them a six in-a-row last year.

Can Mayo go all the way, through either the front or the back door? They haven’t been good enough, no matter how close they've come or how hard they’ve tried, since their breakthrough in 2011. Only the addition of another marquee forward seems like changing that.

Kerry players celebrate at the final whistle in their League final win over Dublin

Ulster, as has long been the case, is the most interesting of football’s four provinces. Holders Tyrone, Donegal and Monaghan are all capable of taking the Anglo Celt Cup.

Monaghan have Jack McCarron to help out Conor McManus up front, Tyrone are still without the killer forward they need to take the next step and Donegal appear the most exciting of the trio as manager Rory Gallagher nears the completion of a serious overhaul.

Ultimately though, Dublin and Kerry are ahead of the rest as things stand. The Boys in Blue are looking to do a three in-a-row, but since last August they have been signs of vulnerability.

In the All-Ireland semi-final Kerry had them under pressure once they got the squeeze on Stephen Cluxton’s kick-outs and Mayo pushed them all the way through 140 minutes of football of eye-popping intensity in the drawn and replayed All-Ireland final despite conceding two own-goals.

The Kingdom finally proved the Dubs were fallible when they beat them in the recent League decider. Their mission now is to do it all again in September.