It was a decent opening venture into management for Henry Shefflin.

The man they called 'King Henry' as a player, the only hurler to win 10 All-Ireland senior medals, showed last season that his midas touch could just as easily be extended to the sideline.

First off, Ballyhale Shamrocks regained the Kilkenny title after a gap of four years. The Leinster crown was swiftly added, eight goals scored in two wins over Wexford's Naomh Éanna and Dublin's Ballyboden.

Galway side St Thomas', champions of 2013, stood in their way in the All-Ireland final but were swatted aside by 17 points. The clean sweep at his first attempt.

But links to the Waterford job have proven unfounded and Brian Cody is going nowhere soon - 22 years in a row and counting - so what else is there to do but set about reestablishing a club dynasty?

The Kilkenny Championship runs on a linked league/knockout basis.

The cut-throat nature of the competition means three of last year's semi-finalists finished in the bottom two of their six-group teams and had to enter at the preliminary/relegation round.

Last year's runners-up Bennettsbridge have already been eliminated and will need to beat St Patrick's Ballyragget to preserve their senior status on Sunday.

Ballyhale also had to play their way into the quarter-finals though Shefflin's former inter-county team-mate Richie Power feels they were keeping their powder dry after a draining year of action.

And they have just the men to fire it against Clara in former Hurlers of the Year TJ Reid and 34-year-old Michael Fennelly, who was recently appointed Offaly boss.

Michael Fennelly captained Ballyhale to All-Ireland glory in March

"I think Henry was just trying to get them to peak at the right time," Power tells RTÉ Sport, ahead of Saturday's live coverage of a Kilkenny SHC quarter-final double bill on RTÉ2.

"I believe Michael Fennelly is back training with them again after playing no time during the league and by all accounts he's moving very well. You would imagine it would be his last hurrah.

"If those reports are true, and TJ is fit, that’s a huge plus for Ballyhale and will probably tip it in their favour but I could see it being a tight game.

"Clara have been ticking along nicely. Lester Ryan is back on the field on a regular basis, not being involved with Kilkenny. The likes of Chris Bolger and these guys are hurling very well so I give Clara a very good chance.

"Clara have won two Championships and been beaten in a couple of finals in the last six years. They have been there or thereabouts. They have a lot of guys around the 30 mark, but there might be a final kick in these guys."

For Power, whose Carrickshock club are now intermediate but contested two senior finals this decade, bringing Ballyhale down before they can build up a head of steam is key.

"If Ballyhale are going to be caught, I think it’s going to be at the quarter-final stage.

"They might just be a little off the peak then but once they get to a semi or a final they are extremely hard to beat."

Conor Fogarty has been nominated for an All-Star for his performances with Kilkenny this season

The other quarter-final at Nowlan Park features a team with something to prove against one of the contenders for the title.

Erin's Own of Castlecomer beat Bennettsbridge by 12 points two weeks ago and will need little motivation to continue their pursuit of a first final place since 1979 as they take on Dicksboro.

"Castlecomer (Erin's Own) were beaten by a controversial last-minute goal against the Shamrocks last year in the semi-final. There was a clear push in the back in the build-up to the goal," says Power.

"They believe they would have won the county final.

"The way the weather and the ground has gone, it’s really going to suit Castlecomer. They’re a very hard team to beat.

"Conor Fogarty was outstanding against Bennettsbridge and Conor Delaney was very good. They’ll bring a lot of confidence in."

Standing in Erin's Own's way are the champions of 2017, who Power calls "the form team" after their league stage victory a fortnight ago. 

"It’s a tight one to call but I would probably go on the side of Dicksboro.

"They’re peaking at the right time and have Cillian (Buckley) back at centre-back, who would have missed a lot of the games and is a massive addition. You have Evan Cody, Bill Sheehan, who popped up with 1-05 against O’Loughlins in the league final. Their big players are coming to the boil nicely.

"But there could be a bit of a surprise there."

Power expects O’Loughlin Gaels and James Stephens to be standing in the winners’ way in the semi-finals.

In the other quarter-finals, O’Loughlins face Mullinavat on Saturday morning and James Stephens play Rower-Inistioge on Sunday.

Watch Dicksboro v Erin's Own and Clara v Ballyhale Shamrocks in the Kilkenny SHC live on RTÉ2 from 2.45pm on Saturday