All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship
The GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship, known simply as the All-Ireland Championship, is an annual inter-county hurling competition organised by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). It is the highest inter-county hurling competition in Ireland, and has been contested every year except one since 1887.
|All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship|
|Current season or competition:|
|Irish||Craobh Shinsear Iomána na hÉireann|
|Trophy||Liam MacCarthy Cup|
|No. of teams||12|
|Sponsors||Bord Gáis Energy, Centra, Littlewoods Ireland|
|TV partner(s)||RTÉ, Sky Sports, BBC,|
Setanta Sports, Premier Sports,
|Motto||Be there. All the way|
The final, currently held on the third Sunday in August, is the culmination of a series of games played during July and August, with the winning team receiving the Liam MacCarthy Cup. The All-Ireland Championship has always been played on a straight knockout basis whereby once a team loses they are eliminated from the championship. The qualification procedures for the championship have changed several times throughout its history. Currently, qualification is limited to teams competing in the Leinster Championship, the Munster Championship and the two finalists in the Joe McDonagh Cup.
Twelve teams currently participate in the All-Ireland Championship, with the most successful teams coming from the provinces of Leinster and Munster. Kilkenny, Cork and Tipperary are considered "the big three" of hurling. They have won 94 championships between them.
The title has been won by 13 different teams, 10 of whom have won the title more than once. The all-time record-holders are Kilkenny, who have won the championship on 36 occasions. Tipperary are the current champions.
The All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship final was listed in second place by CNN in its "10 sporting events you have to see live", after the Olympic Games. After covering the 1959 All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Final between Kilkenny and Waterford for BBC Television, English commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme was moved to describe hurling as his second favourite sport in the world after his first love, soccer. Alex Ferguson used footage of an All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship final in an attempt to motivate his players during his time as manager of Premier League soccer outfit Manchester United; the players winced at the standard of physicality and intensity in which the hurlers were engaged.
Following the foundation of the Gaelic Athletic Association in 1884, new rules for Gaelic football and hurling were drawn up and published in the United Irishman newspaper. In 1886, county committees began to be established, with several counties affiliating over the next few years. The GAA ran its inaugural All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship in 1887. The decision to establish that first championship was influenced by several factors. Firstly, inter-club contests in 1885 and 1886 were wildly popular and began to draw huge crowds. Clubs started to travel across the country to play against each other and these matches generated intense interest as the newspapers began to speculate which teams might be considered the best in the country. Secondly, although the number of clubs was growing, many were slow to affiliate to the Association, leaving it short of money. Establishing a central championship held the prospect of enticing GAA clubs to process their affiliations, just as the establishment of the FA Cup had done much in the 1870s to promote the development of the Football Association in England. The championships were open to all affiliated clubs who would first compete in county-based competitions, to be run by local county committees. The winners of each county championship would then proceed to represent that county in the All-Ireland series.
The inaugural All-Ireland Championship used, for the only time in its history, an open draw format without the provincial series of games. All of the existing county boards were eligible to enter a team, however, only six chose to do so. Disputes in Cork and Limerick over which club should represent the county resulted in neither county fielding a team. Dublin later withdrew from the championship. In all five teams participated: Clare (Garraunboy Smith O'Briens), Galway (Meelick), Kilkenny (Tullaroan) Tipperary (Thurles) and Wexford (Castlebridge).
Galway and Wexford contested the very first championship match on Saturday 2 July 1887. Postponements, disqualifications, objections, withdrawals and walkovers were regular occurrences during the initial years of the championship. The inaugural All-Ireland final took place on 1 April 1888, with Tipperary defeating Galway to take the title.
The provincial championships were introduced in 1888 in Munster, Leinster, Connacht and Ulster on a knock-out basis. The winners of the provincial finals participated in the All-Ireland semi-finals. Over time the Leinster and Munster teams grew to become the superpowers of the game, as Gaelic football was the more dominant sport in Ulster and Connacht. After some time Galway became the only credible team in Connacht and was essentially given an automatic pass to the All-Ireland semi-final every year. This knock-out system persisted for over 100 years and was considered to be the fairest system as the All-Ireland champions would always be the only undefeated team of the year.
Unlike in other European countries, such as neighbouring England, where annual sports events were cancelled during the twentieth century due to the First and Second World Wars, the All-Ireland Championship has been running continuously since 1887, with the final running since 1889 (the 1888 competition was played but no final was held due to the Invasion). The competition continued even in spite of the effects on the country of the Civil War and the Second World War (the National Hurling League was not held during the latter). In 1941, the All-Ireland Championship was disrupted by an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.
The duration of certain championship matches increased from 60 to 80 minutes during the 1970s. They were settled at 70 minutes after five seasons of this in 1975. This applied only to the provincial finals, All-Ireland semi-finals and finals.
In the mid-1990s the Gaelic Athletic Association looked at developing a new system whereby a defeat in the championship for certain teams would not mean an immediate exit from the Championship. In the 1997 championship the first major change in format arrived when the 'back-door system' was introduced. This new structure allowed the defeated Munster and Leinster finalists another chance to regain a place in the All-Ireland semi-finals. Tipperary and Kilkenny were the first two teams to benefit from the new system when they defeated Down and Galway respectively in the quarter-finals. The All-Ireland final in the first year of this new experiment was a replay of the Munster final with Clare defeating Tipperary. The first team to win the All-Ireland through the 'back-door' was Offaly in 1998, winning a replay of the Leinster final by beating Kilkenny 2–16 to 1–13.
The new "back-door system" proved successful and was expanded over the following years. The 2005 Championship saw even bigger changes in the "back-door" or qualifier system. The Munster and Leinster champions and defeated finalists automatically qualified for the new quarter-final stages, while two groups of four other teams played in a league format to fill the vacant four places in the quarter-finals. Many criticised the structure for not being a real championship at all, for degrading the Munster and Leinster championships and for penalising the strongest teams.
2008 brought a change to the competition format, whereby the team that won the Leinster and Munster championships advanced to the All-Ireland semi-finals, and the losers of the provincial finals advanced to two quarter-finals. A series of knockout qualifiers for the remaining teams decided which other two teams would reach the quarter-finals. The updated qualifier structure provided more games and gave renewed hope to the "weaker" teams, as a defeat in the first round no longer meant the end of a county's All-Ireland ambitions.
There are twelve teams in the All-Ireland Championship. During the course of a championship season (from July to August) seven games are played comprising two preliminary quarter-finals, two quarter-finals, two semi-finals and a final. The championship is played as a single-elimination tournament.
Qualification and progression
|Teams entering in this round||Teams advancing from previous round|
London became the first overseas team to compete in the All-Ireland Championship in 1900. For four consecutive years they were given a bye to the All-Ireland final where they played the "home" champions in the final proper. They won their only All-Ireland title in 1901. London returned to the All-Ireland Championship on a number of occasions between 1969 and 1996.
In 1905 Lancashire and Glasgow entered the All-Ireland Championship at the quarter-final stage. Lancashire returned for one more championship campaign in 1913 whilst Glasgow returned for the 1910 and 1913 championships.
New York fielded a team in an expanded All-Ireland Championship in 1996.
Stadium attendances are a significant source of regular income for the GAA and for the teams involved. For the 2017 championship, the average attendances for the five games was 56,565 with a total aggregate attendance figure of 282,826. The 2017 figure represented the highest combined total for an All-Ireland Championship since 2012, when 294,079 fans attended six games, including a final replay between Kilkenny and Galway. The highest all-time aggregate attendance for the championship was 332,387 in 2007 when eight games were played.
Croke Park was initially used as the venue for All-Ireland quarter-finals following their introduction in 1997. These games were usually played as a double-header. From 2008 until 2017 the quarter-finals were played at Semple Stadium in Thurles.
The All-Ireland semi-finals have been played exclusively at Croke Park since 1977. Croke Park had been regularly used as a semi-final venue prior to this, however, a number of other stadiums around the country were also used. St. Brendan's Park and St. Cronan's Park were regularly used for semi-finals involving Kilkenny and Galway. Other regular semi-final venues included the Markets Field, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, St. Ciarán's Park, the Cork Athletic Grounds and Cusack Park.
Since 1910, Croke Park has been the regular venue for the All-Ireland final. Only on two occasions since then has the final been played outside of Croke Park. Construction of the Cusack Stand in 1937 meant that that year's final was played at the newly-opened FitzGerald Stadium in Killarney. In 1984 the GAA celebrated its centenary by playing the All-Ireland final at Semple Stadium in Thurles.
In the years prior to 1910, the All-Ireland final was held in a variety of locations around the country, including Jones's Road as Croke Park was known before its dedication to Thomas Croke. The inaugural final in 1887 was played at Birr, before Dublin venues Clonturk Park, the Pond Field and the Phoenix Park were used in the early 1890s. Fraher Field hosted the final on three occasions, while the final was played at the newly-opened Cork Athletic Grounds on two occasions.
Managers in the All-Ireland Championship are involved in the day-to-day running of the team, including the training, team selection, and sourcing of players from the club championships. Their influence varies from county-to-county and is related to the individual county boards. From 2018, all inter-county head coaches must be Award 2 qualified. The manager is assisted by a team of two or three selectors and an extensive backroom team consisting of various coaches. Prior to the development of the concept of a manager in the 1970s, teams were usually managed by a team of selectors with one member acting as chairman.
|Kilkenny||11||2000, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007|
2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014
|Cork||3||1976, 1977, 1978|
|Kilkenny||3||1979, 1982, 1983|
|Galway||3||1980, 1987, 1988|
Trophy and medals
At the end of the All-Ireland final, the winning team is presented with a trophy. The Liam MacCarthy Cup is held by the winning team until the following year's final. Traditionally, the presentation is made at a special rostrum in the Ard Chomairle section of the Hogan Stand where GAA and political dignitaries and special guests view the match.
The cup is decorated with ribbons in the colours of the winning team. During the game the cup actually has both teams' sets of ribbons attached and the runners-up ribbons are removed before the presentation. The winning captain accepts the cup on behalf of his team before giving a short speech. Individual members of the winning team then have an opportunity to come to the rostrum to lift the cup.
The Liam MacCarthy Cup commemorates the memory of Liam MacCarthy. Born in London to Irish parents in 1851, he was prominently involved in the establishment of a county board in London in the 1890s. In 1922 he presented the GAA with £500 to commission a cup for the All-Ireland champions. The cup, which was constructed to look like a medieval Irish drinking vessel called a mather, was made by jeweller Edmund Johnson at his premises on Dublin’s Grafton Street. It replaced the Great Southern Cup as the All-Ireland trophy and was first presented to Bob McConkey of Limerick in 1923.
Declan Carr of Tipperary were the last recipient of the original Liam MacCarthy Cup in 1991 before it was retired. It is now on display in the GAA Museum in Croke Park. JMK Gold & Silversmith's produced an exact replica which was first awarded to Liam Fennelly of Kilkenny in 1992.
In accordance with GAA rules, the Central Council awards up to twenty-six gold medals to the winners of the All-Ireland final. The medals are 9 carat gold and depict the design of the GAA. Trophies are awarded to the All-Ireland runners-up. A miniature replica of the Liam MacCarthy Cup is awarded to the captain of the winning team.
Since 1995, the All-Ireland Championship has been sponsored. The sponsor has usually been able to determine the championship's sponsorship name.
|1887−1994||No main sponsor||The All-Ireland Championship|
|1995−2007||The Guinness Hurling Championship|
|2008−2009||The GAA Hurling All-Ireland Championship|
|2010−2012||The GAA Hurling All-Ireland Championship|
|2013−2016||The GAA Hurling All-Ireland Championship|
|2017−2019||The GAA Hurling All-Ireland Championship|
From the early 1920s, British Pathé recorded newsreel footage of the All-Ireland finals which was later shown in cinemas around the country. The National Film Institute and Gael Linn later produced their own newsreels of All-Ireland finals with Michael O'Hehir providing commentary. These newsreels were staples for cinema-goers until the 1960s.
Following the establishment of 2RN, Ireland's first radio broadcasting station, on 1 January 1926, sports coverage, albeit infrequent, was a feature of the schedules. Early broadcasts consisted of team announcements and short reports on events of interest. 2RN recorded a broadcasting first on 29 August 1926 when former hurler and journalist P.D. Mehigan carried a live commentary of the All-Ireland semi-final between Kilkenny and Galway. It was the first live radio broadcast of a field game outside of the United States. Although there was no designated sports department within Irish radio for many years, a two-way relationship between the national broadcaster and the GAA was quickly established. As well as exclusive live commentaries, Seán Ó Ceallacháin began broadcasting a weekly results programme on Radio Éireann in 1930.
When Telefís Éireann was established on 31 December 1961, the new station was interested in the broadcasting of championship games. The GAA, however, were wary that live television coverage would result in lower attendances at games. Because of this, the association restricted annual coverage of its games to the All-Ireland hurling and football finals, the two All-Ireland football semi-finals and the two Railway Cup finals. The first live broadcast of a hurling championship match was the All-Ireland final between Tipperary and Wexford on 2 September 1962. While the All-Ireland semi-finals were reintroduced in 1969, RTÉ was still confined to just broadcasting the final. In spite of this, highlights of the semi-finals were regularly shown.
The All-Ireland final between Tipperary and Kilkenny on 5 September 1971 was the first to be broadcast in colour.
The first All-Ireland semi-final to be broadcast live was the meeting of Cork and Galway on 7 August 1977. The popularity of the evening highlights programme led to the development of The Sunday Game, which was first broadcast on 8 July 1979. For the early years financial and logistical reasons restricted the programme to featuring just one full championship game and discussion about it. The show, however, soon expanded featuring coverage of one or more of the day’s main championship games, followed by extended highlights of the other major games of the day.
In 1983, Channel 4 began broadcasting RTÉ's coverage of the All-Ireland final in Britain. This simulcast lasted until 1992 when the live broadcast was dropped, however, the entire match was shown at a later time.
In 2014, the GAA signed a three-year broadcasting deal with Sky Sports. While Sky were granted exclusive rights to some high-profile games, they were also permitted to broadcast live coverage of the All-Ireland semi-finals and final, however, these games were also broadcast live on RTÉ.
Finals listed by year
Winners and runners-up listed by county
Winners listed by county
Kilkenny have won the All-Ireland Hurling Championship the most times - thirty-six titles as of 2016. Kilkenny have been runner-up more often than any other team (26 times). Two teams have won the Championship on four consecutive occasions Cork (1941–44) and Kilkenny (2006–09). Only three teams have won the Championship on three consecutive occasions - Cork (1892–94, 1941–44 (4 times), 1952–54 & 1976–78), Tipperary (1898–1900, 1949–51) and Kilkenny (1911–13, 2006–09 (4 times)). Kilkenny, Galway (1987–1988) and Wexford have all achieved the "double" by winning back-to-back titles over the years. Antrim hold the unfortunate record of appearing in two All-Ireland Finals (1943 and 1989) without ever winning the cup.
The following is a list of the top county teams by number of wins
|Team||Wins||Last win||Final losses||Last losing final||Final Win Ratio|
Wins listed by province
|Province||Wins||Last win||Biggest contributor||Wins|
The following counties have never won an All-Ireland in hurling:
|Ulster||Antrim, Armagh, Cavan, Derry, Donegal, Down, Fermanagh, Monaghan, Tyrone|
|Leinster||Carlow, Kildare, Longford, Louth, Meath, Westmeath, Wicklow|
|Connacht||Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo|
|Other||New York Warwickshire Lancashire|
|1||Henry Shefflin||Kilkenny||28–485 (569pts)||71 games||1999–2014||8.0|
|2||Joe Canning||Galway||27–422 (503pts)||55 games||2008–||9.15|
|3||Patrick Horgan||Cork||21–402 (466pts)||57 games||2008–||8.18|
|4||Eddie Keher||Kilkenny||35–336 (441pts)||50 games||1959–1977||8.78|
|5||Eoin Kelly||Tipperary||21–369 (432pts)||63 games||2000–2014||7.3|
|6||TJ Reid||Kilkenny||22−320 (386pts)||58 games||2007–||6.65|
|7||Séamus Callanan||Tipperary||34−213 (315pts)||54 games||2008–||5.83|
|8||Christy Ring||Cork||33−208 (305pts)||64 games||1940–1963||4.8|
|9||D.J. Carey||Kilkenny||33−188 (287pts)||57 games||1989–2005||5.0|
|10||Shane Dooley||Offaly||20−218 (278pts)||42 games||2008–||6.7|
|11||Nicky Rackard||Wexford||59–96 (273pts)||36 games||1940–1957||7.58|
|As of 30 July 2019 (Bold denotes players still active), |
Average score shows score in points per Championship game
Eddie Keher of the Rower-Inistioge holds numerous championship scoring records. In 50 championship appearances between 1959 and 1977 he scored 35 goals and 334 points. Not only that but Keher also set and broke a number of individual records. In the 1963 All-Ireland final he scored 14 points, a verifiable record for a final up to that point. In 1971 Keher broke his own record when he captured 2 goals and 11 points in the All-Ireland final against Tipperary. What is more remarkable is the fact that he ended up on the losing side on that occasion. This record was broken by Nicky English in 1989 when he scored 2 goals and 12 points in a 70-minute All-Ireland final. Keher's tally of 6 goals and 45 points in the 1972 championship is also a record.
There are THREE types of hurling scoring records as recorded by the official hurling records published and retained by Croke Park and authenticated by the county historians of participating GAA counties. This following information was copied from page 40 of the All Ireland Hurling official programme which was published by Croke Park on the day of the All Ireland hurling final of 2005 between Cork and Galway
(1) The 80 minute final. This 80 minute final took place in 1971 between Tipperary and Kilkenny. Eddie Keher scored 2-11 which makes a total of 17 points. However 2-08 of this was scored from frees. (2) The record for all 70 minute finals. This record was made in 1989. This hurling final was between Tipperary and Antrim. Nicholas English scored 2-12 points which equals a total of 18 points. However 0-9 of this was achieved from frees. (3) The 60 minute final: The overall scoring record is held by Michael Gah Ahern the greatest sharpshooter of the 1920s and early 1930s. He scored 5-04. What makes this scoring record remarkable is that he scored ALL of his scores from his hands.
Nicky Rackard of Wexford got the highest confirmed total in a major championship game. In Wexford's 12−17 to 2–3 defeat of Antrim in the 1954 All-Ireland semi-final he scored a remarkable 7 goals and 7 points. His tally of 6 goals and 4 points against Dublin is also a scoring record. Rackard also scored 5 goals and 4 points against Galway in the 1956 All-Ireland semi-final.
Prior to the 1930s scoring records for championship games were rarely kept. A number of players have been credited with enormous tallies. Andy 'Dooric' Buckley scored at least 6 goals when Cork beat Kilkenny by 8–9 to 0–8 in the 1903 All-Ireland 'home' final. Other newspaper reports credit him with 7 goals and 4 points.
Jimmy Kelly of Kilkenny is said to have scored 7 goals in 30 minutes against Cork in the replay of the 1905 final.
In 1990 the rule prohibiting a hand-passed score was introduced. This had a large bearing on the scoring records above with less goals being scored in open play following its introduction. In the 1990 Congress the score rule was changed to read: "A Goal is scored when the ball is played by either team between the goalposts and under the crossbar. A point is scored when the ball is played by either team between the uprights and over the crossbar. The ball shall not be thrown or carried over the goal-line by an attacking player. In Hurling a score may not be made by an attacking player in possession fisting or handpassing the ball but a score may be made by a player stricking the ball in flight with the fist or open hand.''"
Championship tiers, 2020
Liam MacCarthy Cup (tier 1)
Joe McDonagh Cup (tier 2)
The finalists of the Joe McDonagh Cup enter the Liam McCarthy Cup by playing the third placed provincial teams in the two preliminary quarter-finals.
Christy Ring Cup (tier 3)
Nicky Rackard Cup (tier 4)
Lory Meagher Cup (tier 5)
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- Ó Sé, Tomás (20 July 2019). "'The commitment Fergie was so impressed by a decade back has now gone to another level'". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media.
I'm not sure if it was one of those blood-and-thunder Kilkenny-Tipperary epics, but the wealthy superstars of Carrington were suitably impressed, wincing at the raw physicality on show... Ferguson was well educated on the GAA from the time that Kevin Moran was briefly double-jobbing with United and the Dubs... But the commitment Fergie was so impressed by a decade back has now gone to another level.
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- Moran, Seán (11 September 2019). "Remembering when Kerry kicked ahead of Dublin 78 years ago: This year will be only the third replay between the counties, and the first in Croke Park". The Irish Times. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
Dublin [footballers]... hadn't won Leinster for seven years and didn't go into the All-Ireland semi-final as provincial champions – they were nominated by the province because of the foot-and-mouth outbreak that year, which caused the Leinster [football] final against Carlow to be postponed until November.
- Breheny, Martin. "The Final Verdict: The Greatest of my Lifetime" in Martin Breheny's Greatest All-Ireland Finals. Irish Independent. 1 September 2018, p. 2.
- Moran, Seán (11 September 2019). "Will time be on Dublin's side once more?". The Irish Times. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
Another issue touched on by John O'Keeffe in his interview was the strange decision to extend senior championship provincial finals, All-Ireland semi-finals and finals to 80 minutes – which was an extra third on the previous duration of an hour. Curiously, it made little difference to the outcome of matches. Of the five finals plus 1972 replay played over 80 minutes – the length of a match was settled at 70 minutes from 1975 onwards – only the 1971 Offaly-Galway result would have been affected. Had it been played over an hour, it would have ended in a draw instead of Offaly's first All-Ireland triumph.
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- Keys, Colm (2 April 2014). "GAA faces backlash over Sky Sports deal". Irish Independent. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
Since 2018, the All Ireland hurling final is now held on the third Sunday in August.