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All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship

All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship
Current season or competition:
2015 All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship
Irish Craobh Shinsear Iomána na hÉireann
Founded 1887
Region Ireland (GAA)
Trophy Liam McCarthy Cup
No. of teams 14
Title holders Kilkenny (36th title)
First winner Tipperary (26 titles)
Most titles Kilkenny (36 titles)
TV partner(s) RTÉ, Sky Sports, BBC,
Setanta Sports, Premier Sports,
Seven (Australia)
Motto "Nothing beats being there"[1]
Official website

The All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship, the premier competition in Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). Contested by the top inter-county hurling teams in Ireland, the tournament has taken place every year since 1887—except in 1888, when the competition was not played due to a tour of the United States by would-be competitors.

The final, usually held on the first Sunday of September, serves as the culmination of a series of games played during the summer months, and the results determine which county's team receives the Liam McCarthy Cup. Where five Sundays occur in September (as in 2012 and 2013), the final is held on the second Sunday in September. The Championship was initially a straight knockout competition open only to the champions of each of the four provinces of Ireland. During the 1990s the competition was expanded, firstly incorporating a "back-door system" and later a round-robin group phase involving more games. The Championship currently consists of several stages. In the present format, it begins in late May with provincial championships held in Leinster and Munster. Once a team is defeated in the provincial stage they are granted one more chance to compete for the title. The Munster and Leinster champions gain automatic admission to the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship semi-finals, where they are joined by the two winners of the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship qualifiers via two lone quarter-finals.

Thirteen teams currently participate in the Championship, the most dominant teams coming from the provinces of Leinster and Munster. Kilkenny, Cork and Tipperary are considered "the big three" of hurling. Between them, these teams have won 90 out of 126 (approx 72%) championships completed during its history. The title has been won by 13 different teams, 10 of which have won the title more than once. The all-time record-holders are Kilkenny, who have won the competition 36 times.

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 and ahead of both the FIFA World Cup and UEFA European Football Championship.[2] 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.[3] The current All-Ireland champions are Kilkenny.


  • History 1
  • Notable events 2
  • Notable teams 3
  • Format 4
  • Sponsorship 5
  • Roll of honour 6
  • Top winners 7
  • Scoring records 8
  • Championship tiers, 2015 9
  • See also 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12


Following the foundation of the hurling were drawn up and were soon published in local newspapers throughout the country. In 1886 county boards were created to run the affairs of the various counties that participated in the competition. By 1887 the first All-Ireland Hurling Championship took place with five teams participating.

For the first few years of the championship the various counties were represented by the team who won the county club championship. For instance, the 1887 championship saw Thurles representing Tipperary and Meelick representing Galway. Dedicated inter-county teams were only introduced in 1895 when Cork put forward a mixture of all the best players from that county's best local clubs. Over the early years various changes were made in the rules of hurling, and its sister sport, Gaelic football. Teams were reduced from 21 players to 17 and eventually to the current number of 15, and the rules regarding the value of a goal were also tweaked in the first few years of the competition.

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.

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. Now 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.

In 2008 the current championship structure was adopted, whereby the winners of the Leinster and Munster championships advanced to the All Ireland semi finals, and the 2 losers of the provincial finals advance to 2 quarter finals. A series of knockout qualifiers for the remaining teams decides what other 2 teams reach the quarter finals. The new qualifier structure, has provided more games and has given hope to the 'weaker' teams, as a defeat in the first round no longer means the end of a county's All-Ireland ambitions.

Notable events

  • At the third meeting of the newly founded Gaelic Athletic Association in 1885 new rules for the game of hurling are drawn up and published in national newspapers.
  • The first All-Ireland Hurling Championship takes place in 1887 with only five teams participating.
  • In 1924 Mick Gill creates history by winning two All-Ireland Senior Hurling medals in the same year and for different counties. In September he played on the Galway side which beat Limerick in the delayed 1923 final. In the actual 1924 final he played on the victorious Dublin team.
  • The All-Ireland Final of 1931 between Cork and Kilkenny had to be played no less than three times before a team emerged as the winner.
  • The 1939 All-Ireland Final is remembered as the "thunder and lightning" final. On the eve of the outbreak of World War II Cork and Kilkenny played the first half of the game at a frantic pace. The climax of the final was played in a ferocious storm with victory eventually going to Kilkenny.
  • In 1944 Cork pull off an historic achievement by winning their fourth All-Ireland title in a row.
  • The All-Ireland Final of 1956 draws a record crowd of 83,096.
  • The All-Ireland Final of 1993 is the last game to be played in the old Croke Park before the demolition of the Cusack Stand and the beginning of a multimillion-pound redevelopment of the entire stadium.
  • The All-Ireland Final of 1994 has come to be remembered as the "five-minute final." Limerick looked set to win their first All-Ireland title since 1973 until Offaly stage one of the greatest comebacks of all time, scoring two goals and most of their points in the last few minutes.
  • The Championship of 1997 sees the introduction of the so-called "back-door" system where the beaten Munster and Leinster finalists are allowed back to contest the All-Ireland series.
  • In the All-Ireland Semi-Final replay of 1998 between Clare and Offaly, referee Jimmy Cooney blows the whistle two minutes early. Offaly's players and supporters launch a sit-down protest on the pitch due to the fact that they were losing when the whistle was blown early. An extra replay was forced, which Offaly won.
  • The All-Ireland Final on September 11, 2005 was the first to be played at the fully refurbished Croke Park. The Cusack Stand, the Canal Stand, the Hogan Stand and the new Hill 16 and Nally End all have a combined capacity of 82,300.
  • In 2009 Kilkenny equal Cork`s historic achievement by winning their fourth All-Ireland title in a row.
  • The 2014 All-Ireland Final ends in a draw for the 3rd year in a row. Kilkenny and Tipperary score a combined total of 62 points, making it the highest scoring 70 minute final of all time. Kilkenny beat Tipperary in the replay by a scoreline of 2-17-2-14. Henry Shefflin becomes the first GAA player to win 10 Senior All-Ireland medals, while Brian Cody becomes the first GAA manager to achieve the same feat.

Notable teams


The county is a geographical region in Ireland, and each of the thirty-two County Board. The county teams play in their respective Provincial championships in Munster, Leinster, Connacht and Ulster.

As of 2011, the championship format is as follows:

14 counties participate in Tier 1 of the 2016 Championship. These teams will be as follows:

Provincial Championships

The Leinster, Munster and Ulster championships are knockout competitions. The Ulster Championship is not part of the All Ireland championship and results have no bearing on the competition. The Leinster Championship consists of the 7 Leinster teams mentioned above, along with Galway and Antrim. The Munster Championship consists of the 5 Munster teams mentioned above only. The Leinster and Munster champions advance directly to the All-Ireland semi-finals. The losing provincial finalists go on to the All Ireland quarter finals and other losing teams enter the All Ireland qualifiers.

All-Ireland Qualifiers

Preliminary Round: (2 matches) This consists of matches between 4 teams knocked out before the semi finals of the provincial championships, with 2 winners proceeding to Phase 1.

Phase 1: (2 matches) This winners of the preliminary round play the remaining 2 teams knocked out before the semi finals of the provincial championships, with 2 winners proceeding to Phase 3.

Phase 2: (2 matches) This consists of matches between teams knocked out at the semi final stage of the provincial championships. The 2 winners proceed to Phase 3.

Phase 3: (2 matches) The winners of Phase 1 play the winners of Phase 2, with the winners of these matches proceeding to the All Ireland Quarter finals.

All-Ireland Series

Quarter-finals: (2 matches) The defeated Munster and Leinster finalists will play the winners of the qualifier phase 3 games.

Semi-finals: (2 matches) The Munster and Leinster champions will play the winners of the quarter-finals.


Since 1995, the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship has been sponsored. The sponsor has usually been able to determine the championship's sponsorship name. The list below details who the sponsors have been and what they called the competition:

Roll of honour

Team Wins Years won
1 Kilkenny 36 1904, 1905, 1907, 1909, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1922, 1932, 1933, 1935, 1939, 1947, 1957, 1963, 1967, 1969, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1979, 1982, 1983, 1992, 1993, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015
2 Cork 30 1890, 1892, 1893, 1894, 1902, 1903, 1919, 1926, 1928, 1929, 1931, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1946, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1966, 1970, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1984, 1986, 1990, 1999, 2004, 2005
3 Tipperary 26 1887, 1895, 1896, 1898, 1899, 1900, 1906, 1908, 1916, 1925, 1930, 1937, 1945, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1958, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1971, 1989, 1991, 2001, 2010
4 Limerick 7 1897, 1918, 1921, 1934, 1936, 1940, 1973
5 Dublin 6 1889, 1917, 1920, 1924, 1927, 1938
5 Wexford 6 1910, 1955, 1956, 1960, 1968, 1996
7 Galway 4 1923, 1980, 1987, 1988
7 Offaly 4 1981, 1985, 1994, 1998
7 Clare 4 1914, 1995, 1997, 2013
10 Waterford 2 1948, 1959
11 Kerry 1 1891
11 London 1 1901
11 Laois 1 1915

Top winners

Kilkenny have won the All-Ireland Hurling Championship the most times - thirty-six titles as of 2015. Kilkenny have been runner-up more often than any other team (25 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
1 Kilkenny 36 2015 25 2010 59%
2 Cork 30 2005 19 2013 61%
3 Tipperary 26 2010 11 2014 70%
4 Limerick 7 1973 8 2007 47%
5 Dublin 6 1938 14 1961 30%
Wexford 6 1996 11 1977 35%
7 Galway 4 1988 19 2015 17%
Offaly 4 1998 3 2000 57%
Clare 4 2013 4 2002 50%
10 Waterford 2 1959 4 2008 33%
11 Kerry 1 1891 0 100%
London 1 1901 3 1903 25%
Laois 1 1915 2 1949 33%
14 Antrim 0 2 1989 0%

The top provinces by number of wins:

Province Wins Last win Biggest contributor Wins
1 Munster 70 2013 Cork 30
2 Leinster 54 2015 Kilkenny 36
3 Connacht 4 1988 Galway 4
4 Ulster 0

The following counties have never won an All-Ireland in hurling:

Province Counties
Ulster Antrim, Armagh, Cavan, Derry, Donegal, Down, Fermanagh, Monaghan, Tyrone, New York
Leinster Carlow, Kildare, Longford, Louth, Meath, Westmeath, Wicklow
Connacht Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo

Scoring records

All-time top scorers in the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship
(Championship scores only)
Rank Player Team Scores Games Era Average
1 Henry Shefflin Kilkenny 27-484 (565pts) 71 games 1999–2014 7.95
2 Eddie Keher Kilkenny 35-334 (439pts) 50 games 1959–1977 8.78
3 Eoin Kelly Tipperary 21-368 (431pts) 59 games 2000–2014 7.3
4 Joe Canning Galway 23-238 (307pts) 34 games 2008–2015 9.02
5 Christy Ring Cork 33-208 (305pts) 64 games 1940–1963 4.8
6 D.J. Carey Kilkenny 34-195 (297pts) 57 games 1989–2005 5.2
7 Nicky Rackard Wexford 59-96 (273pts) 36 games 1940–1957 7.58
8 Joe Deane Cork 10-229 (259pts) 50 games 1996–2008 5.18
9 Niall Gilligan Clare 20-197 (257pts) 56 games 1997–2009 4.6
10 Paul Flynn Waterford 24-181 (253pts) 45 games 1993–2008 5.6
As of 21 June 2015 (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.

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.

P. J. Riordan is alleged to have scored all but 1 point of Tipperary's total when they beat Kilkenny by 6-8 to 0-1 in the 1895 All-Ireland final.

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, 2015

Counties coloured by 2015 Championship tier
Tier 1
Liam McCarthy Cup
colours GAA county Province Provincial championships
Antrim* Ulster Leinster and Ulster
Carlow* Leinster Leinster
Clare Munster Munster
Cork Munster Munster
Dublin Leinster Leinster
Galway Connacht Leinster
Kilkenny Leinster Leinster
Laois* Leinster Leinster
Limerick Munster Munster
Offaly Leinster Leinster
Tipperary Munster Munster
Waterford Munster Munster
Westmeath* Leinster Leinster
Wexford Leinster Leinster
Tier 2
Christy Ring Cup
Tier 3
Nicky Rackard Cup
Tier 4
Lory Meagher Cup

See also


  1. ^ "From Sam Maguire to Dr Maguire – St Eunan's and Naomh Conaill do battle in County Final". Donegal Daily. 4 November 2012. Retrieved 4 November 2012. A huge crowd is expected at MacCumhaill Park at a time when gaelic games in the county have never had a higher profile. Nothing beats being there, as the GAA slogan goes, but for the neutrals who can't be in Ballybofey, the game is live on TG4 from throw-in at 4pm. 
  2. ^ Donnelly, Shawn (2 April 2012). """10 sporting events you have to see live: Because the real glory of athletic competition is being able to say, "I was there!. CNN. Retrieved 2 April 2012. 
  3. ^  

External links

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