All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship

All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship

infobox football tournament
current = All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship 2008

founded = 1887
region = Ireland (GAA)
number of teams = 12
current champions = Kilkenny (31st time)

The GAA All-Ireland Hurling Senior Championship is the premier "knockout" competition in the game of hurling played in Ireland. The series of games are organised by the Gaelic Athletic Association and are played during the summer months with the All-Ireland Hurling Final being played on the first or second Sunday in September in Croke Park, Dublin. The prize for the winning team is the Liam McCarthy Cup. The current champions are Kilkenny,who beat Waterford by a score of 3-30 to 1-13 in the All-Ireland Final on September 7, 2008.

Twelve teams participate in the Championship, the most dominant teams coming from the provinces of Leinster and Munster. Kilkenny, Cork and Tipperary are considered to be the "big three" of hurlingFact|date=May 2008. Between them, these teams have won the Championship on 86 occasions during its 121-year history, Kilkenny leading the title count with 31.


Following the foundation of the Gaelic Athletic Association on November 1, 1884, one of the association's early aims was the promotion of a national competition that involved the Gaelic games of Gaelic football and hurling. At the third meeting of the new organisation in January 1885, new rules for the ancient game of 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. Although only five teams participated, it was a step in the right direction for the organisation.

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 GAA 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 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 eventually introduced in Munster, Leinster, Connacht and Ulster on a "knock-out" basis. The winners of the various provincial finals would go on to participate in the All-Ireland semi-final stage. 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 remained for many decades and was considered to be the fairest system as the All-Ireland Champions would always be the undefeated team of the series of games.

In the mid-1990s the Gaelic Athletic Association looked at developing a new system whereby a defeat in the championship for certain teams may not necessarily mean an early exit from the Championship. In the Championship of 1997 the first major change in format arrived when the so-called "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 two "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 when they won 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 qualify for the new Quarter-Final stages. While two groups of four other teams play in a league format to fill the vacant four places in the quarter-finals. Many have criticised the new structure for not being a real championship at all, for degrading the Munster and Leinster Championships and for penalising the strongest teams. However, 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.


The county is a geographical region in Ireland, and each of the thirty-two counties in Ireland organises its own GAA affairs through a County Board. The county teams play in their respective Provincial Championships in Munster, Leinster, Connacht and Ulster.


The hurling championship qualifying structure works as follows:

Counties Participating: Twelve Counties shall participate in the Championship (initially the Counties participating in Division 1 of the National Hurling League). Additional provision shall be made for the Ulster Champions, if not already included.

Provincial Championships:Provincial Championships will run as normal in Munster, Leinster and Ulster on a 'Knock Out' format.

All Ireland Qualifier: The 8 Counties participating shall be the First Round Losers in the Leinster and Munster Championships (two Teams), the Losing Semi-Finalists in the Leinster and Munster Championships (four Teams), Galway, and Antrim.

Groups (2):Two Groups of four Teams shall be drawn, with a maximum of two Teams from Munster and Leinster in each Group. Each County in a Group shall meet each other i.e. each Team shall play three games.

All Ireland Quarter Finals (4): The Pairings for the All Ireland Quarter-Finals shall be as follows:
*Leinster Champions v Second Placed Team in one Qualifier Group.
*Munster Champions v Second Placed Team in the other Qualifier Group.
*Leinster Championship Runners Up v First Placed Team in One Qualifier Group.
*Munster Championship Runners Up v First Placed Team in the other Qualifier Group.

A Draw shall be made to determine who each of the 'First Placed' Teams and each of the 'Second Placed' Teams shall meet.

All Ireland Semi-Finals: The Leinster and Munster Provincial Champions, if still involved, shall be drawn against the other two Quarter Final Winners. If the Leinster and/or Munster Provincial Champions are defeated in the Quarter Finals, the Team(s) that defeated them shall take their position(s) in the Draw.


The format of the 2008 championship will be as follows:

12 counties will participate in Tier 1 of the 2008 Championship. These teams will be as follows:
* Leinster: Dublin, Kilkenny, Laois, Offaly, Wexford
* Munster: Clare, Cork, Limerick, Tipperary, Waterford
* Connacht: Galway
* Ulster: Antrim

Provincial Championships

The Leinster, Munster and Ulster championships will be played as usual. The Leinster and Munster champions will advance directly to the All-Ireland semi-finals.

All-Ireland Qualifiers

"Phase 1:" (1 match) This will be a single match between Antrim and Galway.

"Phase 2:" (2 matches) The winner of the phase 1 game will play the team eliminated in the first round of the Leinster Championship. The loser of the phase 1 game will play the team eliminated in the first round of the Munster Championship.

"Phase 3:" (2 matches) This phase will comprise of the beaten provincial semi-finalists in Leinster and Munster who will play two knock-out games. Teams from the same province cannot meet in these games.

"Phase 4:" (2 matches) The winners from phase 2 will play the winners from phase 3 in a knock-out format.

All-Ireland Series

"Quarter-finals:" (2 matches) The defeated Munster and Leinster finalists will play the winners of the qualifier phase 4 games.

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


The losing teams from the qualifier phase 2 games shall play-off. The loser of this game shall play a promotion/relegation play-off against the winners of the Christy Ring Cup.


Since 1994, the All-Ireland Senior Football 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:
* 1995–2008: Guinness (Guinness Hurling Championship)
* 2008–present: RTÉ, Ethiad Airways, Guinness (GAA All-Ireland Hurling Senior Championship)

Recent history

*See: "All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship History"

All-Ireland Hurling Finals

*See: "List of All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship finals"

Top Winners

Kilkenny have won the All-Ireland Hurling Championship the most times - thirty-one titles as of 2008. Kilkenny have been runner-up more often than any other team (24 times). Cork are the only team to have won the Championship on four consecutive occasions (1941-44). Only three teams have won the McCarthy Cup on three consecutive occasions - Cork (1892-94, 1941-43, 1952-54 & 1976-78), Tipperary (1949-51) and Kilkenny (1911 - 13, 2006-08). Kilkenny, Galway 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

coring records

Tier 2: Christy Ring Cup

*Derry - promoted last year
*Westmeath - relegated last year

Tier 3: Nicky Rackard Cup

*Roscommon - relegated last year

External links

* []

ee also

*Top 20 GAA Moments

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