Two teams departed the championship this weekend but on the evidence of the summer, one has far more cause to feel optimism than the other. 

Following Sunday's loss, Kilkenny have now gone three years without an All-Ireland title.

But there's a definite sense that progress has been made in 2018 and no one is yet getting too impatient in the county. 

At the beginning of the year, most pundits would have argued that they were well shy of winning Liam MacCarthy. 

They've proven in this campaign that they're not that far away. 

After the first two games of the National League, plenty would have eyed us up as possible relegation fodder. And yet we come away with the trophy.

In the championship proper, we got back to a Leinster final and battled the All-Ireland champions to a draw in Croke Park. 

All in all, Brian Cody has done a super job in 2018. If I had one slight criticism of the management, it might be the decision to throw Pat Lyng into the mix at the weekend. I was surprised with the call.

He hadn't featured in the championship up until that point and they wouldn't have been doing that much in training. So it would have been really hard for Pat to stick his hands up. For me, the decision smacked of straining too hard to pull a rabbit out of the hat. 

When you see the likes of Richie Leahy and John Donnelly coming on and performing so well, perhaps he should have stuck with one of those guys.  

John Donnelly impressed after coming on against Limerick on Sunday

There's no question - we remain a team in transition. 

Seven players made their Championship debuts this season and the experience they've gained will stand to the team in the next couple of years. 

Underage needs to be a key focus in Kilkenny over the next few years. At the moment, we're really crying out for a minor All-Ireland or an U21 All-Ireland. We won minor titles in 2010 and 2014 but our last All-Ireland title at U21 level was a decade ago. 

Underage success was the catalyst for the team that reached maturity at senior level in '06. Our group of players - Michael Fennelly, John Tennyson, Cha Fitzpatrick - had all won minor and U21 All-Irelands. 

Having said that, I do still believe that, with a few tweaks, there's an All-Ireland in the current panel.

A few positional changes are in order. We need to find a way of allowing Padraig Walsh to return to his favoured position at wing-back. For that, obviously, we have to find a full-back. 

Underage needs to be a key focus in Kilkenny over the next few years. At the moment, we're really crying out for a minor All-Ireland or an U21 All-Ireland.

Conor Delaney from Erin's Own in Castlecomer was hugely impressive at full-back for the U21s last year. This year, for whatever reason, he seemed to completely fall out of favour with the management team.    

Obviously, it's Kilkenny's longest stretch without an All-Ireland title since the 1990s. But even at that I don't see any impatience growing among the supporters.  

There's a realisation that we may have been spoilt during the era of Henry Shefflin, JJ Delaney and Tommy Walsh.  

Those teams don't come along that often. We're probably never going to see a group of that calibre again. So, you have to bide our time, you have to rebuild.   

Brian Cody's motto was always to build a spirit within a group that can't be broken. Does he believe he has that? I think yes. And I'm certain he believes that there's an All-Ireland title in this cohort of players. 

Wexford sweeper Shaun Murphy struggled to impact the game last Saturday

Wexford seems to be a different story. Have they made progress? On the evidence of this summer, they've stagnated since the reaching a Leinster title last year.

The main problem with Wexford is they've become very, very predictable. They have the hurlers down there.

They've won numerous U21 Leinster titles and competed for U21 All-Irelands. 

But they don't seem to have a Plan B. When things go wrong, they stay going wrong.

Clare knew exactly how to play it against the sweeper system last Saturday.

They played a lot of short ball to their half forward line to Tony Kelly and David Reidy and, from there, they spread it wide. 

The main problem with Wexford is they've become very, very predictable... Clare knew exactly how to play it against the sweeper system last Saturday.

They opted not to go down the middle, in spite of the fact that John Conlon at full-forward has been their in-form player all year. 

They hit the corners instead and played it into Shane O'Donnell and Podge Collins. And they just played around the sweeper. 

As a result, Shaun Murphy, Wexford's designated sweeper, was non-existent in the game. 

On top of that, Clare used the ball really intelligently and, crucially, were intent on picking out Tony Kelly as often as possible.

Matthew O'Hanlon wouldn't be the most mobile of centre backs and they knew Kelly would have the legs on him. That typified Clare on the day. Their decision-making was hugely impressive throughout.   

When teams adapt to that approach from Wexford, they don't respond with a Plan B. They don't seem to want to switch to 15 on 15.

That's something they're going to have to look at because all the top tier teams now find it easy to re-adjust their attack and work their way around the sweeper system.  

In my eyes, Wexford need to completely strip back their style of play. Do they have the confidence to go man for man? If they don't, maybe they need to examine whether they should change personnel.  

For the supporters, the disappointing thing is they haven't really kicked on since reaching the Leinster final in 2017.

They're in the same boat as they were last year and the big question is where do they go from here. And is Davy going to stay or is he going to go?