The All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championship is an annual inter-county club hurling competition organised by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) and contested by the top senior clubs in Ireland. Regarded as the most prestigious club competition in hurling, the tournament has taken place every year since 1971.
The final, usually held on St. Patrick's Day, serves as the culmination of a series of games played during the winter and spring months, and the results determine which county's team receives the Tommy Moore Cup. The championship has always been played on a straight knockout basis whereby once a team loses they are eliminated from the series. In the present format, it begins in October with provincial championships held in Leinster, Munster and Ulster, with the three respective champions contesting the subsequent All-Ireland semi-finals with the Galway champions.
Ballyhale Shamrocks is the most successful club in the competition's history, having won the championship six times. Galway clubs have accumulated the highest number of victories (13 wins), followed by Kilkenny (11 wins) and Cork (9 wins). The championship has been won by 24 different clubs, 10 of which have won it more than once. Only four clubs—Sarsfields, Athenry, Birr and Portumna— have managed consecutive wins. The reigning champions are Ballyhale Shamrocks, who secured their sixth title in the competition after defeating Kilmallock by 1-18 to 1-6 in the 2015 final.
In the 1960s a number of new initiatives took place with regard to developments in Gaelic games competitions. Firstly the All-Ireland under-21 championships in hurling and Gaelic football were introduced in 1964 as a new grade of competition for young hurlers. Secondly, the Munster Senior Club Hurling Championship was established that same year as a competition for the champion clubs of the six counties of the southern province. Prior to this, however, tournaments and charity games involving clubs from different counties had taken place as far back as the thirties.
At the GAA's annual congress in 1969 Donegal, Galway and Wexford put down a motion for the introduction of All-Ireland club championships in both codes. The competition eventually began in 1970-71.
The GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Club Championship features four teams in the final tournament. 16 teams contest the three provincial club championships with the three respective champions and the Galway champions, a team who face no competition in their own province, automatically qualifying for the All-Ireland series.
Each of Ireland's 32 counties play their own championship between all the hurling clubs in the county – depending on the county, it can be league, knockout, or a mixture of both. The 32 county champions play in the 4 provincial championships, with the four winners of these advancing to the All-Ireland Semi-Finals. Until the introduction of the Intermediate and Junior Championships one team usually played the London champions in a quarter-final. The London champions now play in the Intermediate Championship. The All-Ireland Final is played in Croke Park on St. Patrick's Day.
County championships: June — November
Provincial championships: October — December
All-Ireland quarter-final and semi-finals: February
The club championship was first held in 1971, with Roscrea of Tipperary becoming the first champions. Ironically, given the county's initial opposition to the tournament, Cork clubs won seven All-Irelands in this decade. James Stephens of Kilkenny were the first Leinster team to win.
Castlegar won Connacht's first title in 1980, and in '83 Loughgiel Shamrocks became Ulster's first and only All-Ireland champions at the time, repeating the feat in 2012. Teams from the traditional hurling counties (Cork, Tipperary and Kilkenny) dominated for the rest of the 80s.
Since the 1990s Galway clubs have come to the fore, with Sarsfields, Athenry and Portumna managing to retain the title. Birr also enjoyed much success, winning four titles in nine seasons.