All-Ireland Under-21 Hurling Championship

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GAA Hurling Under-21 All-Ireland Championship
Current season or competition:
2018 All-Ireland Under-21 Hurling Championship
All-Ireland Under-21 Hurling Championship logo.jpg
Irish Craobh Iomána Fé-21 na hÉireann
Code Hurling
Founded 1964; 54 years ago (1964)
Region Ireland (GAA)
Trophy James Nowlan Cup
No. of teams 4
Title holders Limerick (6th title)
Most titles Cork and Kilkenny (11 titles)
Sponsors Bord Gáis Energy
TV partner(s) TG4
Official website Official website

The GAA Hurling Under-21 All-Ireland Championship (known for sponsorship reasons as the Bord Gáis Energy GAA Hurling Under-21 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 for male players under the age of 21 in Ireland, and has been contested every year since the 1964 championship.

The final, currently held on the fourth Sunday in August, serves as the culmination of a series of games played during the summer months, and the results determine which team receives the James Nowlan 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, however, as of 2018 the qualification procedures for the championship have changed. Currently, qualification is limited to teams competing in the Leinster Championship and the Munster Championship.

Four teams currently participate in the All-Ireland Championship, with the most successful teams coming from the province of Munster. Teams representing this province have won a total of 32 All-Ireland titles.

The title has been won by 8 different teams, 7 of whom have won the title more than once. The all-time record-holders are Cork and Kilkenny, who have each won the championship on 11 occasions. Limerick are the current holders.[1]



Since 1962, the Munster Council had been organising a provincial championship for under-21 players in Gaelic football. This championship proved successful in bridging the gap between the minor and senior grades in a way in which the junior championship had failed to do. At the GAA's annual Congress in April 1963, the Kerry County Board introduced a successful motion in favour of extending the provincial championship to All-Ireland level. It was the fifth All-Ireland championship to be created after the corresponding championships in senior (1887), junior (1912), minor (1928) and intermediate (1961).


The inaugural All-Ireland Championship in 1964 used a provincial format. 16 teams contested the respective championships in Leinster and Munster, with Tipperary and Wexford emerging as the respective champions. Roscommon and Antrim were the respective unopposed representatives from Connacht and Ulster.

Antrim and Wexford contested the very first championship match on Sunday 2 August 1964 at Casement Park, Belfast. The inaugural All-Ireland final took place on 4 October 1964, with Tipperary defeating Wexford to take the title.[2]

Proposed changes[edit]

In 2008 a radical motion was brought before a special Congress in an effort to combat player burnout. It was proposed to merge the existing under-21 and minor championships to create a new All-Ireland Under-19 Hurling Championship.[3] This motion was defeated by 115 votes to 58.[4]

A similar motion was later introduced in an effort to lower the age and create a new All-Ireland Under-20 Championship, however, this motion was also defeated.[5]


Like the corresponding championships at senior and minor levels, Leinster and Munster teams grew to become the most dominant, as Gaelic football was the more dominant sport in Ulster and Connacht. After leaving the Munster Championship in 1970, Galway became the only credible team in Connacht and was essentially given an automatic pass to the All-Ireland semi-final every year.

After the introduction of the "back door" system in the senior and minor championships in 1997, the under-21 championship remained as the last true straight knock-out championship. This changed following a Central Council motion to alter the format of the championship was endorsed by a Special Congress on 30 September 2017. The proposal to allow Galway and Ulster teams as agreed by the Leinster and Ulster Councils into the Leinster Championship was backed by 72% of delegates. The original recommendation would have ended All-Ireland semi-finals as the Munster winners were set to face off against the Leinster victors from next year. However, Cork argued that they should be retained with the Munster champions taking on the runners-up in Leinster and vice versa. Their idea was endorsed by 78% of delegates.[6] The new format will be used for the first time in 2018.

At the GAA Congress on 24 February 2018, the age limit of the championship was changed to twenty, following a successful motion by the Offaly County Board. The new All-Ireland Under-20 Hurling Championship is likely to come into effect in either 2019 or 2020. In contrast to Gaelic football, though, under-20 hurlers will be eligible to play both under-20 and senior hurling for their county.[7]



Province Championship Teams progressing
Leinster Leinster Under-21 Hurling Championship Champions and runners-up
Munster Munster Under-21 Hurling Championship Champions and runners-up


There are four teams in the All-Ireland Championship. During the course of a championship season three games are played comprising two semi-finals and a final. The championship is played as a single-elimination tournament. Each game is played as a single leg.


Croke Park in Dublin last hosted the All-Ireland final in 2009.
Semple Stadium in Thurles has hosted 20 All-Ireland finals.


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 three games was 7,336 with a total aggregate attendance figure of 22,009.


The All-Ireland semi-finals have been played exclusively at Semple Stadium in Thurles since 2011. Both semi-finals are usually played on the same day as part of a double-header of games. Semple Stadium had been regularly used as a semi-final venue prior to this, however, a number of other stadiums around the country were also used. Páirc Esler in Newry and Páirc Tailteann in Navan were regularly used for semi-finals involving a Leinster-Ulster pairing. Parnell Park in Dublin was used on a number of occasions for Munster-Ulster clashes, while O'Connor Park in Tullamore was a regular venue for Connacht-Munster and Connacht-Leinster meetings.


Since 2010, Semple Stadium in Thurles has been the regular venue for the All-Ireland final. Prior to this, Semple Stadium had hosted the All-Ireland final on 12 previous occasions. Other stadiums which hosted the All-Ireland final include Walsh Park (8 times), Croke Park (7 times), Nowlan Park (5 times), Gaelic Grounds (5 times) and O'Connor Park (3 times).

Trophy and medals[edit]

James Nowlan was commemorated by having the All-Ireland cup named in his honour in 2016.

At the end of the All-Ireland final, the winning team is presented with a trophy. The cup is held by the winning team until the following year's final. Traditionally, the presentation is made at a special rostrum in 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 original trophy was known as the Cross of Cashel. Awarded for the first time in 1967, the trophy depicted the crucifixion of Jesus. P. J. Ryan of Tipperary was the first recipient. After nearly 50 years the trophy was retired following the conclusion of the 2015 championship.[8] Diarmaid Byrnes of Limerick was the last captain to receive the trophy.[9]

In 2016 the GAA established a new cup named the James Nowlan Cup. Born in Monasterevin, James Nowlan became the first Chairman of the Leinster Council in 1900. He was elected President of the GAA in 1901, serving in that position until 1921. As the longest-serving president, Nowlan was honoured as the GAA's only Honorary Life President.[10]

In accordance with GAA rules, the Central Council awards up to twenty-four gold medals to the winners of the All-Ireland final.


Since 2003, the All-Ireland Championship has been sponsored. The sponsor has usually been able to determine the championship's sponsorship name.[11][12]

Period Sponsor(s) Name
1964-2002 No main sponsor The All-Ireland Under-21 Championship
2003-2008 Republic of Ireland Erin Foods The Erin All-Ireland Under-21 Hurling Championship
2009–present Republic of Ireland Bord Gáis Energy The Bord Gáis Energy All-Ireland Under-21 Hurling Championship

Finals Listed By Year[edit]

Year Winners Score Runners-up Score Venue Winning Captain
1964 Tipperary 8-9 Wexford 3-1 Nowlan Park Francis Loughnane
1965 Wexford 3-7 Tipperary 1-4 Nowlan Park Willie O'Neill
1966 Cork 9-9 (4-9, 3-12) Wexford 5-9 (4-9, 5-6) Croke Park (Gaelic Grounds, Nowlan Park) Gerald McCarthy
1967 Tipperary 1-18 Dublin 3-7 Croke Park P. J. Ryan
1968 Cork 2-18 Kilkenny 3-9 Walsh Park Pat Hegarty
1969 Cork 5-13 Wexford 4-7 Walsh Park Mick McCarthy
1970 Cork 5-17 (3-8) Wexford 0-8 (2-11) Croke Park Teddy O'Brien
1971 Cork 7-8 Wexford 1-11 Walsh Park Pat McDonnell
1972 Galway 2-9 Dublin 1-10 Gaelic Grounds Iggy Clarke
1973 Cork 2-10 Wexford 4-2 Páirc Daibhín Martin O'Doherty
1974 Kilkenny 3-8 Waterford 3-7 Semple Stadium Ger Fennelly
1975 Kilkenny 5-13 Cork 2-19 Fraher Field Kevin Fennelly
1976 Cork 2-17 Kilkenny 1-8 Walsh Park Tadhg Murphy
1977 Kilkenny 2-9 Cork 1-9 Semple Stadium Mickey Lyng
1978 Galway 3-15 (3-5) Tipperary 2-8 (2-8) Gaelic Grounds Bernie Forde
1979 Tipperary 2-12 Galway 1-9 O'Moore Park Michael Doyle
1980 Tipperary 2-9 Kilkenny 0-14 Walsh Park P. J. Maxwell
1981 Tipperary 2-16 Kilkenny 1-10 Walsh Park Philip Kennedy
1982 Cork 0-12 Galway 0-11 St. Brendan's Park Martin McCarthy
1983 Galway 0-12 Tipperary 1-6 O'Connor Park Peter Casserly
1984 Kilkenny 1-12 Tipperary 0-11 Walsh Park Séamus Delahunty
1985 Tipperary 1-10 Kilkenny 2-6 Walsh Park Michael Scully
1986 Galway 0-14 Wexford 2-5 Semple Stadium Anthony Cunningham
1987 Limerick 2-15 Galway 3-6 Cusack Park Gussie Ryan
1988 Cork 4-11 Kilkenny 1-5 St. Brendan's Park Christy Connery
1989 Tipperary 4-10 Offaly 3-11 O'Moore Park Declan Ryan
1990 Kilkenny 2-11 Tipperary 1-11 O'Moore Park Jamesie Brennan
1991 Galway 2-17 Offaly 1-9 Gaelic Grounds Brian Feeney
1992 Waterford 0-12 (4-4) Offaly 2-3 (0-16) Nowlan Park Tony Browne
1993 Galway 2-9 (2-14) Kilkenny 3-3 (3-11) O'Connor Park Liam Burke
1994 Kilkenny 3-10 Galway 0-11 O'Connor Park Philly Larkin
1995 Tipperary 1-14 Kilkenny 1-10 Semple Stadium Brian Horgan
1996 Galway 1-14 Wexford 0-7 Semple Stadium Peter Huban
1997 Cork 3-11 Galway 0-13 Semple Stadium Dan Murphy
1998 Cork 2-15 Galway 2-10 Semple Stadium Dan Murphy
1999 Kilkenny 1-13 Galway 0-14 O'Connor Park Noel Hickey
2000 Limerick 1-13 Galway 0-13 Semple Stadium Donncha Sheehan
2001 Limerick 0-17 Wexford 2-10 Semple Stadium Timmy Houlihan
2002 Limerick 3-17 Galway 0-8 Semple Stadium Peter Lawlor
2003 Kilkenny 2-13 Galway 0-12 Semple Stadium Jackie Tyrrell
2004 Kilkenny 3-12 Tipperary 1-6 Nowlan Park James "Cha" Fitzpatrick
2005 Galway 1-15 Kilkenny 1-14 Gaelic Grounds Kenneth Burke
2006 Kilkenny 1-11 (2-14) Tipperary 0-11 (2-14) Semple Stadium (Croke Park) Michael Fennelly
2007 Galway 5-11 Dublin 0-12 Croke Park Kevin Hynes
2008 Kilkenny 2-13 Tipperary 0-15 Croke Park James Dowling
2009 Clare 0-15 Kilkenny 0-14 Croke Park Ciarán O'Doherty
2010 Tipperary 5-22 Galway 0-12 Semple Stadium Pádraic Maher
2011 Galway 3-14 Dublin 1-10 Semple Stadium Barry Daly
2012 Clare 2-17 Kilkenny 2-11 Semple Stadium Conor McGrath
2013 Clare 2-28 Antrim 0-12 Semple Stadium Paul Flanagan
2014 Clare 2-20 Wexford 2-11 Semple Stadium Tony Kelly
2015 Limerick 0-26 Wexford 1-7 Semple Stadium Diarmaid Byrnes
2016 Waterford 5-15 Galway 0-14 Semple Stadium Adam Farrell & Patrick Curran
2017 Limerick 0-17 Kilkenny 0-11 Semple Stadium Tom Morrissey

Wins Listed By County[edit]

No. Team Wins Years Won Losses Years Runner-Up
1 Colours of Cork.svg Cork 11 1966, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1976, 1982, 1988, 1997, 1998 2 1975, 1977
Colours of Kilkenny.svg Kilkenny 11 1974, 1975, 1977, 1984, 1990, 1994, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008 12 1968, 1976, 1980, 1981, 1985, 1988, 1993, 1995, 2005, 2009, 2012, 2017
2 Colours of Galway.svg Galway 10 1972, 1978, 1983, 1986, 1991, 1993, 1996, 2005, 2007, 2011 11 1979, 1982, 1987, 1994, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2010, 2016
3 Colours of Roscommon.svg Tipperary 9 1964, 1967, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1985, 1989, 1995, 2010 8 1965, 1978, 1983, 1984, 1990, 2004, 2006, 2008
4 Colours of Leinster Council.svg Limerick 6 1987, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2015, 2017
5 Colours of Clare.svg Clare 4 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014
6 Colours of Monaghan.svg Waterford 2 1992, 2016 1 1974
7 Colours of Wexford.svg Wexford 1 1965 12 1964, 1966, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1986, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2014, 2015
8 Colours of Dublin.svg Dublin 4 1967, 1972, 2007, 2011
9 Colours of Offaly.svg Offaly 3 1989, 1991, 1992
10 Colours of Antrim.svg Antrim 1 2013

Performances by province[edit]

A representative of each of the four provinces of Ireland have made an appearance in the final match of the All-Ireland.

To date, Munster leads with 30 titles, followed by Leinster with 12 titles and Connacht with 10 titles. A team from Ulster has made the championship final just once, but was defeated by a Munster side.

Province Performances
Winners Runners-up
Munster 32 titles: Cork (11), Tipperary (9), Limerick (6), Clare (4), Waterford (2) 11 times: Tipperary (8), Cork (2), Waterford (1)
Leinster 12 titles: Kilkenny (11), Wexford (1) 31 times: Wexford (12), Kilkenny (12), Dublin (4), Offaly (3)
Connacht 10 titles: Galway (10) 11 times: Galway (11)
Ulster 1 time: Antrim (1)

Records and statistics[edit]

By decade[edit]

The most successful team of each decade, judged by number of All-Ireland Under-21 Hurling Championship titles, is as follows:

  • 1960s: 3 for Cork (1966-68-69)
  • 1970s: 4 for Cork (1970-71-73-76)
  • 1980s: 4 for Tipperary (1980-81-85-89)
  • 1990s: 3 each for Kilkenny (1990-94-99) and Galway (1991-93-96)
  • 2000s: 4 for Kilkenny (2003-04-06-08)
  • 2010s: 3 for Clare (2012-13-14)


Longest gaps between successive All-Ireland titles:

  • 24 years: Waterford (1992-2016)
  • 15 years: Tipperary (1995-2010)
  • 13 years: Limerick (1987-2000)
  • 13 years: Limerick (2002-2015)
  • 12 years: Tipperary (1967-1979)
  • 9 years: Cork (1988-1997)
  • 7 years: Kilkenny (1977-1984)

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Limerick too good for Kilkenny in Under-21 hurling final". RTÉ Sport. 9 September 2017. Retrieved 9 September 2017. 
  2. ^ Cahill, Jackie (11 September 2016). "The Tipperary exile who's an U21 hurling encyclopedia". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 25 January 2018. 
  3. ^ O'Riordan, Ian (23 January 2008). "Merge needs simple majority". Irish Times. Retrieved 15 July 2015. 
  4. ^ "GAA delegates reject U-19 proposal". RTÉ Sport. 26 January 2008. Retrieved 15 July 2015. 
  5. ^ O'Riordan, Ian (11 September 2008). "Under-20 championship proposed". Irish Times. Retrieved 15 July 2015. 
  6. ^ Fogarty, John (30 September 2017). "Galway the winners as minor and U21 hurling championships changes backed by Special Congress". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 30 September 2017. 
  7. ^ "Congress: new U20 hurling championship gets green light". Hogan Stand. 24 February 2018. Retrieved 24 February 2018. 
  8. ^ Keys, Colm (11 September 2015). "All-Ireland U-21 hurling trophy to be 'retired'". Irish Independent. Retrieved 12 February 2018. 
  9. ^ "Cross of Cashel's last hurrah". Hogan Stand. 11 September 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2018. 
  10. ^ "New All-Ireland U21HC trophy unveiled". Hogan Stand. 7 September 2016. Retrieved 12 February 2018. 
  11. ^ "Erin announces U-21 hurling sponsorship deal". Breaking News. 24 June 2003. Retrieved 12 February 2018. 
  12. ^ "Bord Gáis sign up as hurling championship sponsors". RTÉ News. 19 January 2017. Retrieved 12 February 2018.