All-Ireland Senior Football Championship

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All-Ireland Senior Football Championship
Current season or competition:
2015 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship
All Ireland football logo.PNG
Green and Sam
Irish Comórtas Shinsear Peile na hÉireann
Founded 1887
Region Ireland (GAA)
Trophy Sam Maguire Cup
No. of teams 33
Title holders Dublin (25th title)
First winner Limerick (2 titles)
Most titles Kerry (37 titles)
TV partner(s)

RTÉ, Sky Sports, BBC,
Setanta Sports, Premier Sports,

Official website

The All-Ireland Senior Football Championship (SFC), the premier competition in Gaelic football, is an annual series of games usually played in Ireland during the summer and early autumn, and organised by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). Contested by the top inter-county football 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 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final is played on the third or fourth Sunday in September at Croke Park in Dublin, with the winning team receiving the Sam Maguire Cup.


The first Championship to be held featured club teams who represented their respective counties after their county championship. The 21 a-side final was between Commercials of Limerick and Young Irelands of Louth. The final was played in Beech Hill, Clonskeagh (not Bird Avenue) on 29 April 1888 with Commercials winning by 1–4 to 0–3. Unlike later All-Ireland competitions, there were no provincial championships, and the result was an open draw.

The second Championship was unfinished owing to the American Invasion Tour. The 1888 provincial championships had been completed (Tipperary, Kilkenny and Monaghan winning them; no Connacht teams entered) but after the Invasion tour returned, the All-Ireland semi-final and final were not played. English team London reached the final four times in the early years of the competition (1900–1903).

In 1892, inter-county teams were introduced to the All-Ireland Championship. Congress granted permission for the winning club to use players from other clubs in the county, thus the inter-county teams came into being. The rules of hurling and football were also altered: goals were made equal to five points, and teams were reduced from 21 to 17 a-side.

The 1903 Championship brought Kerry's first All-Ireland title. They went on to become the most successful football team in the history of the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship.[2]

The first half of the twentieth century brought the rise of several teams who won two or more All-Ireland titles in that period, such as Kildare, Mayo, Cavan, Wexford and Roscommon. In a "remarkable GAA phenomenon" these have all declined and have not won a championship in many decades. Since Cavan's fifth title in 1952 none have won a final and Cavan and Wexford have never even appeared in one again. Mayo have appeared in seven finals since 1989 and have lost all of them.[3] In the 1990s, a significant sea change took place, as the All-Ireland was claimed by an Ulster team in four consecutive years (1991–1994). Since then Ulster has produced more All-Ireland winning teams than any other province.[4]

The All-Ireland Qualifiers were introduced in 2001. Later that year, the 2001 final brought victory for Galway who became the first football team to win an All-Ireland by springing through "the back door." In 2013, Hawk-Eye was introduced for Championship matches at Croke Park.[5] It was first used to confirm that Offaly substitute Peter Cunningham's attempted point had gone wide 10 minutes into the second half of a game against Kildare.[6] 2013 also brought the first Friday night game in the history of the Championship - a first round qualifier between Carlow and Laois.[7]


Team Colours Sponsor Manager Captain Most recent success
All-Ireland Provincial
Antrim Antrim colours.PNG Saffron and white Creagh Concrete Frank Fitzsimmons CJ McGourty 1951
Armagh Armagh colours.PNG Orange and white Rainbow Communications Kieran McGeeney Ciaran McKeever 2002 2008
Carlow Carlow colours.PNG Red, green and gold Anthony Rainbow Brendan Kavanagh 1944
Cavan Laois colours.PNG Royal blue and white Kingspan Group Terry Hyland Alan Clarke 1952 1997
Clare Portumna GAA colours.PNG Saffron and Blue Pat O'Donnell Colm Collins Gary Brennan 1992
Cork Cork colours.PNG Red and white Chill Insurance Brian Cuthbert Michael Shields 2010 2012
Derry Cork colours.PNG Red and white Specialist Joinery Group Damien Barton Mark Lynch 1993 1998
Donegal Donegal colours.jpg Gold and green Donegal Creameries Rory Gallagher Michael Murphy 2012 2014
Down Down colours.PNG Red and black Canal Court Hotel Jim McCorry Conor Laverty 1994 1994
Dublin Dublin colours.PNG Sky blue and navy American International Group Jim Gavin Stephen Cluxton 2015 2015
Fermanagh Limerick colours.PNG Green and white Tracey Concrete Peter McGrath Eoin Donnelly
Galway Galway colours.PNG Maroon and white Supermac's Kevin Walsh Paul Conroy 2001 2008
Kerry Kerry colours.PNG Green and gold Kerry Group Éamonn Fitzmaurice Fionn Fitzgerald
Kieran O'Leary[a]
2014 2015
Kildare Kildare colours.PNG White Brady Family Ham Jason Ryan Eamonn Callaghan 1928 2000
Laois Laois colours.PNG Blue and white MW Hire Services Tomás Ó Flatharta Ross Munnelly 2003
Leitrim Kerry colours.PNG Green and gold The Bush Hotel Seán Hagan Emlyn Mulligan 1994
London London colours.PNG Green and white Bewley's Hotels Paul Coggins Seamus Gannon
Limerick Limerick colours.PNG Green and white Sporting Limerick John Brudair Seanie Buckley 1896 1896
Longford Tipperary colours.PNG Royal blue and gold Glennon Brothers Jack Sheedy Dermot Brady 1968
Louth Cork colours.PNG Red and white Morgan Fuels Aidan O'Rourke Craig O'Cathalainn 1957 1957
Mayo Mayo colours.PNG Green and red Elverys Sports Noel Connelly Keith Higgins 1951 2015
Meath Kerry colours.PNG Green and gold Tayto Park Mick O'Dowd Kevin Reilly 1999 2010
Monaghan Waterford colours.PNG White and blue Investec Malachy O'Rourke Conor McManus 2015
New York New York colours.PNG Red, white and blue Navillus Contracting Ian Galvin Brendan Quigley
Offaly Offaly colours.PNG White, green and gold Carroll Cuisine Emmet McDonnell Niall McNamee 1982 1997
Roscommon Portumna GAA colours.PNG Primrose and blue Club Rossie John Evans Niall Carty 1944 2010
Sligo Sligo colours.PNG Black and white Radisson Blu, Sligo Pat Flanagan Adrian Marren 2007
Tipperary Tipperary colours.PNG Blue and gold Intersport Peter Creedon Paddy Codd 1920 1935
Tyrone Derry colours.PNG White and Red McAleer & Rushe Mickey Harte Seán Cavanagh 2008 2010
Waterford Waterford colours.PNG White and blue 3 Mobile Niall Carew Shane Briggs 1898
Westmeath Galway colours.PNG Maroon and white Renault Paul Bealin Paul Sharry 2004
Wexford Wexford colours.PNG Purple and gold Gain Feeds Aidan O’Brien Graeme Molloy 1918 1945
Wicklow Tipperary colours.PNG Blue and gold Brennan Hotels Harry Murphy Leighton Glynn


Current format[edit]

Main article: GAA county

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 Connacht (which also includes teams from London and New York), Leinster, Munster, and Ulster. Kilkenny is currently unique among the 32 Irish county associations in not participating in the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship, however. The Provincial Championships operate through a knock-out cup competition format. They take place during the months of May, June and July. The winners of each of the four Provincial Championships earn a place in the All-Ireland Series, which takes place in the months of August and September.

Each match is played as a single leg. If a match is drawn there is a replay. If that match ends in a draw a period of extra time is played, however, if both sides are still level at the end of extra time another replay will take place.

The twenty-nine teams that fail to win their respective Provincial Championships receive a second opportunity to reach the All-Ireland Series via the All Ireland Qualifiers (also known as the 'back door'). The qualifiers series takes place in the months of June and July and operates as follows:

Fans of Sligo (in black) are visible in the crowd among supporters of Cork, Meath and Tyrone. The introduction of the All-Ireland Qualifiers in 2001 has provided weaker counties with opportunities to play big games at Croke Park.
  • Qualifiers
    • Round 1: All teams that fail to reach the semi-finals of their respective Provincial Championships (16 in total) compete in round one. An open draw system is used to divide the teams into eight individual match-ups. The winning eight teams progress to Round 2, while the losing eight teams are eliminated from the All Ireland Championship.
    • Round 2: Each of the eight winning teams of Round 1 are drawn against the eight losing teams from the semi-finals of the four Provincial Championships. The winning eight teams progress to Round 3, while the losing eight teams are eliminated from the All Ireland Championship.
    • Round 3: The eight winning teams from Round 2 are divided into four individual match-ups. An open draw is made to determine the four pairings. The winning four teams progress to Round 4, while the losing four teams are eliminated from the All Ireland Championship.
    • Round 4: Each of the four winning teams of Round 3 are drawn against the four losing teams from the finals of the four Provincial Championships. The winning four teams proceed to the All-Ireland Series, joining the four Provincial Champions, while the losing four teams are eliminated from the All Ireland Championship.
  • The All-Ireland Series
    • All-Ireland Quarter Finals: The four Provincial Champions are drawn against the winning four teams from Round 4 of the All-Ireland Qualifiers. The four winning teams qualify for the All-Ireland Semi-Finals.
    • All-Ireland Semi Finals: The winning four teams from the All-Ireland Quarter Finals play-off. The two winning teams qualify for the All-Ireland Final.
    • All-Ireland Final: The two remaining teams meet in the All-Ireland Final, usually on the third Sunday in September. The winning team is crowned All-Ireland Champions.[9]

Historic format[edit]

For the first All-Ireland championship in 1887, the competition was played on an open draw knockout basis. From 1888, the provincial system was introduced, whereby the counties in each of Ireland's four provinces would play each other on a knockout basis to find provincial champions. These four champions would meet in the All-Ireland semi-finals. The structure outlined above was adopted in 2001 to allow more games to be played, but still retain provincial championships and the knockout structure, resulting in every game continuing to be a meaningful fixture, with no dead-rubber league format matches being played out.

All-Ireland winners and finalists[edit]

Croke Park kitted out in the green and red of Mayo fans at the 2004 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final.

Over the four Sundays of September, All-Ireland Finals in men's football, ladies' football, hurling and camogie take place at Croke Park, the national stadium of the GAA. Two grades are played on each final day, the senior team and the minor team (consisting of younger players, under the age of 18, who have participated in that year's All-Ireland Minor Football Championship). Guests who attend these events include the President of Ireland, the Taoiseach and other important dignitaries. The football final is considered the pinnacle event of this period.

The final game of the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship takes place on the third Sunday of September. The men's decider regularly attracts crowds of over 80,000. The winning team captain receives the Sam Maguire Cup. The current champions are Dublin.


Dublin, County Dublin Thurles, County Tipperary Cork, County Cork Killarney, County Kerry Clones, County Monaghan
Croke Park Semple Stadium Páirc Uí Chaoimh Fitzgerald Stadium St Tiernach's Park
Capacity: 82,300 Capacity: 53,500 Capacity: 32,550 Capacity: 43,180 Capacity: 36,000
Croke park hogan stand.jpg Semple1.jpg PUC2014.JPG FitzgeraldStadium.jpg Clones 012.jpg

Records and statistics[edit]

Although Wexford were the first county to win four consecutive All-Ireland Senior Football Finals (1915–18), historically Kerry have been the most successful football team in the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship. As of 2014, Kerry have won the competition on 37 occasions, winning in four consecutive years twice (1929–1932 and 1978–1981) and for three consecutive years twice as well (1939–1941 and 1984–1986). Galway were the first team from the western province of Connacht to win an All-Ireland title, doing so in 1925. The 1933 final brought victory for Cavan, who became the first team from the northern province of Ulster to win an All-Ireland title.

Two teams have won the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship as part of a double with that year's All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship, namely Cork (1890 and 1990) and Tipperary (1895 and 1900). The championship has never been won by a team from outside of Ireland, though London have played in five finals.

Dublin are the reigning champions, having defeated Kerry in the 2015 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Colm Cooper was initially named as Kerry captain ahead of the Championship, but a cruciate ligament injury sustained in the All-Ireland Club Championship ruled him out for the season.[8]


  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. ^ "GAA Roll of Honour". 
  3. ^ McGee, Eugene (6 February 2006). "First signs that Mayo might be set to turn back the clock". Irish Independent (Independent News & Media). Retrieved 6 February 2006. 
  4. ^ Moran, Seán (26 May 2013). "Donegal hoping to avoid being fifth All-Ireland champions in 20 years to fall at first hurdle in Ulster: Uneasy lies the head that wears the northern crown". The Irish Times (Irish Times Trust). Retrieved 26 May 2013. 
  5. ^ "GAA hopes Hawk-Eye will eliminate contentious points". RTÉ Sport. 15 May 2013. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  6. ^ "Hawkeye makes successful debut". Hogan Stand. 2 June 2013. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  7. ^ "Qualifiers include first ever Friday night game". RTÉ Sport. 17 June 2013. Retrieved 17 June 2013. Carlow will play Laois on 28 June in Dr Cullen Park, the first time a Championship game will take place on a Friday night. 
  8. ^ "Colm Cooper injury leaves Kerry plans in shreds". Irish Independent. 18 February 2014. Retrieved 18 February 2014. 
  9. ^ GAA

External links[edit]