Munster Senior Hurling Championship
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|Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship|
|Current season or competition:
2015 Munster Senior Hurling Championship
|Irish||Craobh Iomána na Mumhan|
|Trophy||The Munster Cup|
|No. of teams||5|
|Title holders||Tipperary (41st title)|
|Most titles||Cork (51 titles)|
|Sponsors||Etihad Airways, Liberty Insurance, Centra|
|Motto||Nothing beats being there|
|Official website||Official website|
The Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship, known simply as the Munster Championship, is an annual inter-county hurling competition organised by the Munster Council of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). It is one of the most prestigious hurling tournaments in Ireland and the most prestigious inter-county hurling competition in Munster. The championship has been awarded every year since 1889.
The final, usually held on the second Sunday in July, serves as the culmination of a series of games played during the early summer months, and the results determine which county's team receives the Munster Cup. The championship has always been played on a straight knockout basis whereby once a team loses they are eliminated from the championship.
The Munster Championship is an integral part of the wider GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship. The winners of the Munster final, like their counterparts in the Leinster Championship, are rewarded by advancing directly to the semi-final stage of the All-Ireland series of games. The losers of the Munster final enter the All-Ireland series at the quarter-final stage.
Five teams currently participate in the Munster Championship. Two of the most successful teams in hurling, namely Cork and Tipperary, play their provincial hurling in the Munster Championship. Between them, these teams have won the provincial title on 92 occasions during its history while they have also claimed 56 All-Ireland titles.
The title has been won at least once by all six of the Munster counties, five of which have won the title more than once. The all-time record-holders Cork, who have won the competition 51 times. Tipperary are the current champions.
Hurling is the more prominent of the two Gaelic games in Munster. As such the Munster Championship is regarded as the most skillful and exciting of all the provincial hurling championships. The Munster final, particularly when played in Semple Stadium in Thurles, is considered one of the biggest and best sporting occasions in Ireland.
Each match is played as a single leg. If a match is drawn there is a replay. Drawn replays are now settled with extra time; however, if both sides are still level at the end of extra time a second replay takes place and so on until a winner is found. If the lone quarter-final is a draw, extra time is played immediately as replays are only permitted for provincial semi-finals and finals.
The format has remained virtually the same since the very first Munster Championship in 1888. For years Cork and Tipperary, recognised as the 'big two' in the province, were drawn at opposite sides of the championship. This was viewed, however, as a mean of penalising the other teams. While it might be possible to beat one of these teams it was deemed near impossible to beat both in a single championship season. This practice was abolished and now an open draw is made in which three of the five teams automatically qualify for the semi-final stage of the competition. Two other teams play in a lone quarter-final with the winner joining the other three teams at the semi-final stage. Once a team is defeated they are eliminated from the championship.
The Munster Championship has wider implications for the GAA All-Ireland Hurling Senior Championship. The team that is defeated in the lone quarter-final advances to round one of the All-Ireland qualifiers. The two teams that are defeated in the Munster semi-finals also advance to round one of the All-Ireland qualifiers. The winners of the Munster final automatically qualify for the semi-final stages of the All-Ireland series of games while the runners-up qualify for the quarter-final stages.
Five of the six counties of Munster - Clare, Cork, Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford - participate in the championship. Kerry, the sixth county in the province, contested the Munster Championship until 2004; however, they currently participate in the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship, due to the fact that since they won the Christy Ring Cup in 2015, they automatically qualified to play in the Leinster Championship preliminary qualifying group.
The following stadia are frequently used during the Munster Championship:
|Cork||Páirc Uí Chaoimh||32,500|
Munster Championship matches were traditionally played at neutral venues or at a location that was deemed to be half-way between the two participants; however, counties eventually came to home and away agreements depending on the size of their stadia. Counties that have agreements include Cork and Tipperary, Limerick and Cork and Limerick and Tipperary. Every second meeting between these sides is played at the home venue of one of the counties. For example, in 2008 Cork played Tipperary at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, while in 2009 the same match was played at Semple Stadium.
Waterford and Clare, in spite of having home stadia, do not have home and away agreements with the other counties as their stadia are deemed not to be of an adequate size for Munster Championship games. These counties usually play their games at neutral venues.
At the end of the Munster final, the winning team is presented with a trophy. The Munster Cup, which is similar in design to the Liam McCarthy Cup, is held by the winning team until the following year's final. Traditionally, the presentation is made at a special rostrum in the 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 present trophy, sometimes referred to as the Munster Hurling Cup, is the second. The first was used from 1928, when it was donated by the Munster Council, until 1990 when a replica was commissioned due to old age.
Since 1995, the Munster 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:
- 1995–2007: Guinness (Guinness Hurling Championship)
- 2008–2009: RTÉ Sport, Etihad Airways, Guinness (GAA Munster Hurling Championship)
- 2013–present: Centra, Etihad Airways, Liberty Insurance
Munster Championship moments
- Limerick 3-7 : 1-2 Waterford (August 6, 1933 at the Cork Athletic Grounds) – The Munster final was a fairly timid affair with Limerick outclassing Waterford for much of the game. With eight minutes left a massive punch-up between the players resulted in the spectators invading the pitch and the match having to be abandoned. A meeting of the Munster Council in Ryan's Hotel in Clonmel decided that since Limerick had a substantial lead at the time a replay was not necessary and so the Limerick team was awarded the Munster title.
- Limerick 3-12 : 2-3 Cork (1935 at Thurles Sportsfield) – A Munster semi-final which cemented the reputation of Mick Mackey as one of the all-time great hurlers. He scored a goal after two minutes as Limerick went six points ahead after just six minutes. Limerick's Paddy Clohessy was sent off; however, Mackey moved to midfield where he continued to dominate the game. The match also contained a remarkable incident when Tommy Kelly collided with Limerick midfielder Mick Ryan. Kelly was so badly injured that he received the Last Rites on the pitch. Players, officials and the entire crowd knelt in total silence, a complete contrast to the cheering that had gone on just minutes previously.
- Cork 6-7 : 4-13 Limerick (July 16, 1944 at Thurles Sportsfield) – Remembered as the ‘great bicycle final’ due to the large number of fans who cycled and even walked long distances to see the provincial decider. Played on one of the hottest days of the decade, Cork took an early lead; however, Limerick’s Mick Mackey scored two goals and dominated every aspect of the game. Mackey’s heroics looked like they had nullified Cork; however, Johnny Quirke played the game of his life and a hat-trick of goals from the Kerry-born Cork forward kept Cork in the game. Dick Stokes scored the last point of the game to set up a replay.
- Cork 4-6 : 3-6 Limerick (July 30, 1944 at Thurles Sportsfield) – The interest in the replayed Munster final reached fever pitch in advance of the game with another bumper crowd making their way to Thurles by whatever means possible. Limerick looked to have learned from the first outing and took a 3-6 to 2-5 with just seven minutes left in the game. Mackey popped up to score a goal, however, this was disallowed as he had been fouled on his way towards the goalmouth. Limerick missed the resultant free and Cork scored a quick goal and a point to level the scores. In the last minute of the game Mackey tried for the winning point; however, his shot went wide. Seconds later the sliotar fell to Christy Ring who took off on a solo-run from his own half-back line past a succession of challenges. From forty yards out he hammered the winning goal into the net and the game was over. Many people consider this passage of play as the moment when the mantle of hurling’s greatest passed from Mackey to Ring.
- Tipperary 3-10 : 3-10 Cork (May 29, 1949 at the Gaelic Grounds) – This game marked the beginning of a decade-and-a-half of classic Munster Championship clashes between these two sides. Tipperary lined out with a largely inexperienced team; however, for most of the match it looked as if youth would triumph over an ageing Cork side. With only a few minutes left Tipp led Cork by 3-10 to 2-9; however, Jack Lynch stormed forward from midfield and scored a crucial goal to bring his tally to 1-6. A Cork point soon afterwards leveled the game and set up a replay.
- Tipperary 2-8 : 1-9 Cork (June 26, 1949 at the Gaelic Grounds) – While the drawn game was an exciting affair, the replay was a Munster classic. The legendary John Doyle made his championship debut as Cork took a 1-2 to 0-2 lead at the interval. A seemly legal goal was disallowed for Cork which seemed to throw the team somewhat. Deep into injury-time Cork still led by 1-5 to 0-5; however, Jimmy Kennedy scored the equalizing goal and the game headed for extra-time. Both sides took different approaches as extra-time was about to be played. Tipperary retired to their dressing room where the players refreshed themselves with a creamery churn full of water. Cork, on the other hand, remained out on the field in what was one of the warmest days ever recorded in Ireland. As a result, Tipp emerged a much fresher team and won the game by 2-8 to 1-9.
- Tipperary 2-17 : 3-11 Cork (July 23, 1950 at Fitzgerald Stadium) – The 1950 Munster final between Cork and Tipperary was played amid great scenes of anarchy. Up to 50,000 people packed into the stadium as gates were broken down and walls were scaled as uncontrollable fans fought to gain entry. There were supporters on the pitch at the throw-in, while one of them tried to strike Tipp’s Seán Kenny. Tipperary weren’t bothered by the anarchy and led by 1-13 to 1-6 at the interval. As Tipp took an eight-point lead in the second-half the Cork supporters invaded the pitch en masse and interrupted the play for ten minutes. When the pitch was cleared and play resumed Tipperary were clearly rattled and Cork fought back to narrow the deficit. Tipp goalkeeper Tony Reddin had oranges and overcoats thrown at him as he carried out his duties and on one occasion a supporter held him by the jersey as he went to clear the sliotar. Every Cork score was greeted by a pitch invasion, while pleas from Jack Lynch failed to quell them. Tipperary eventually won an anarchical game by 2-17 to 3-11.
- Tipperary 2-11 : 2-9 Cork (July 29, 1951 at the Gaelic Grounds) – The third consecutive installment of the Cork-Tipperary rivalry has come to be regarded as one of the all-time classic games of hurling. At half-time Tipp led by 0-9 to 1-4; however, the restart saw Cork up the ante. Christy Ring gave an absolute exhibition of scoring, collecting possession, beating tackles and setting up attacks. Tipp, however, never faltered in the wake of Ring’s roaming presence. Playing out the final stages of the match in his bare feet Rings converted two more frees; however, Tipp held on to win by two points.
- Waterford 9-3 : 3-4 Tipperary (July 12, 1959 at the Cork Athletic Grounds) – An incredible game of hurling which saw reigning All-Ireland champions Tipperary trounced by Munster minnows Waterford. Tipp played against the wind in the opening half, however, after one of the most remarkable halves in the history of hurling, Waterford had recorded 8-2 while holding Tipp scoreless. Michael O'Hehir, who was commentating on a match in the Connacht Football Championship, announced the half-time score on Radio Éireann but advised listeners that it must be a joke. Tipperary were shellshocked; however, they managed to score 3-4 in the second-half. It was too little too late.
- Tipperary 4-13 : 4-11 Cork (July 31, 1960 at Thurles Sportsfield) – Described as the toughest game of hurling ever played, both Cork and Tipperary were looking forward to a return to the big time. In a classic game Cork had most of the possession in the first-half; however, Tipp led by a goal at the interval. The deadly accuracy of Jimmy Doyle saw him end the game with a tally of 1-8. A nail-biting finish saw ‘the Rebels’ capture a late goal; however, Tipperary held on to win a grueling encounter.
- Galway 2-13 : 0-7 Clare (1961 at the Gaelic Grounds) – Galway's first-ever victory over their nearest hurling neighbours and the county's only success from twelve appearances during a decade-long sojourn in the Munster Championship. Galway's victory was far from unexpected; however, the twelve-point victory was a surprise. Galway's run of success was brought to a shuddering halt in their next game against Tipperary. A 7-12 to 5-6 defeat was their lot in that game.
- Tipperary 3-6 : 0-7 Cork (July 30, 1961 at the Gaelic Grounds) – This game marked the end of twelve years of epoch-making Munster Championship encounters between these two teams. An official crowd of 62,175 is the biggest ever attendance recorded at a sporting event outside of Croke Park in Dublin. An unofficial attendance, due to spectators storming the gates, meant that the crowd could have been as high as 70,000 or more. The Cork team made the mistake of togging out in the nearby Railway Hotel; however, they then had to barge their way through spectators on the Ennis Road to get to the playing field. The game saw Tipp take complete control. A 3-3 to 0-1 score at the interval meant that the writing was on the wall for Cork. The end of the game took on a nasty streak when Christy Ring became entangled on the ground with John Doyle, before Ring allegedly threw a hurley at Tom Moloughney.
- Limerick 6-7 : 2-18 Tipperary (July 29, 1973 at Semple Stadium) – An incredible game which saw Limerick end a provincial drought which had lasted since 1955. Tipperary looked a sure thing to win the game and looked set to break away into an unbeatable lead; however, Limerick hung in their with a fantastic goal-scoring ability. The game hinged on the very final passage of play. A Limerick shot appeared to have gone wide before it struck a Tipp defender. In spite of this, Limerick were still awarded a 70-yard free. Richie Bennis stepped up to take it and was told that it would have to make a direct score as it was the final puck of the game. Bennis didn't fail, in spite of some Tipp fans behind the goal claiming that the sliotar trailed off and went wide.
- Cork 4-15 : 4-10 Clare (July 10, 1977 at Semple Stadium) – After conceding a penalty in the opening minute Clare regrouped and looked like dismantling the reigning All-Ireland champions. Jimmy Barry-Murphy was doing great work for Cork after scoring one goal and setting up another; however, Clare could not be shaken off. Just before half-time, Clare full-back Jim Power was dismissed after striking Ray Cummins. With that, Clare’s chance went and Cork hung on to win the game by five points. Cork were the winners on the field; however, a group of armed robbers made off with £24,579 in gate receipts during the second-half of the game.
- Cork 0-13 : 0-11 Clare (July 30, 1978 at Semple Stadium) – A bumper crowd of 54,181 people, the biggest attendance since 1961, saw Clare almost topple the three-in-a-row hopefuls. Before the game even began Cork's John Horgan got stuck in traffic and had to persuade some Gardaí to escort him through the huge crowds to the stadium. Cork’s attack in the first-half was a shambles, hitting thirteen wides and only leading by 0-5 to 0-3. Cork came out a different team after the interval and took a five-point lead. Clare rallied; however, a last-minute goal chance by Ger Loughnane went inches over the bar. With that the game was over and Loughnane dropped to his knees and beat the ground with his fists.
- Cork 4-15 : 3-14 Tipperary (July 15, 1984 at Semple Stadium) – Regarded at the time as the 'best ever', the 1984 Munster final was a fitting game to celebrate the centenary year of the GAA. The game was a classic encounter; however, the final seven minutes have entered Munster folkore. Cork trailed Tipp by four points with seven minutes left and the game looked lost. John Fenton launched the comeback with a point before Tony O'Sullivan sent the sliotar crashing into the net for an equalizing goal. A draw seemed likely; however, a Tipp attack was halted and turned into a Cork one. O'Sullivan tried for the winning point; however, his shot was stopped by the goalkeeper only to fall to the hurley of Seánie O'Leary who scored the winning goal. John Fenton tacked on an insurance point to give Cork the centenary year Munster title.
- Cork 3-14 : 0-10 Limerick (June 28, 1987 at Semple Stadium) – The game was a largely dull affair that was settled long before the final whistle. It was, however, the day when Cork's John Fenton scored what is widely regarded as the greatest hurling goal of all-time. Playing in his usual midfield position he struck the sliotar on the ground and scored a goal with such fierce velocity from forty-five yards out.
- Cork 1-18 : 1-18 Tipperary (July 12, 1987 at Semple Stadium) – Cork were reigning All-Ireland champions and had ended any chances of a Tipperary hurling revival in both 1984 and 1985. Because of this Cork were installed as favourites to win a record-breaking six consecutive Munster titles; however, Tipperary led by 0-11 to 0-7 at half-time. A second-half goal by Nicky English, expertly side-footed into the net, gave Tipp a lead of seven points. Cork fought back with a string of points to level the game at 1-18 apiece.
- Tipperary 4-22 : 1-22 Cork (July 19, 1987 at FitzGerald Stadium) – In spite of surviving a scare in Thurles Cork were still regarded as the favourites for the replay. The team scored five unanswered points in the first ten minutes and led by 1-10 to 1-5 at the interval. Tipperary were inspired after the restart and came back into contention with a succession of points. A Pat Fox point brought the two teams level; however, Cork regained the lead twice but Tipperary leveled twice. At the end of normal time both sides were again level. Extra time was needed. The first period of extra-time saw Cork take a 1-21 to 1-20 lead, but Tipp edged forward with two more quick points. Michael Doyle, son of the legendary John Doyle, came on as a substitute and had the game of his life. He scored two extra-time goals to swing the momentum in Tipp’s favour. Donie O'Connell bagged another goal to give Tipp an incredible victory. Following the victory team captain Pat Stakelum gave one of the most memorable Munster final victory speeches, roaring defiantly that ‘the famine is over’, before leading the crowd in a version of Slievenamon.
- Cork 4-16 : 2-14 Tipperary (July 15, 1990 at Semple Stadium) – Tipperary were reigning All-Ireland champions and were expected to build on this success in 1990 by retaining the title but despite a strong early start which gave them a good lead Tipperary lost their way and Cork won well in the end. Mark Foley played the game of his life, scoring 2-7 from play, and helped Cork to an eight-point defeat of the All-Ireland champions.
- Cork 4-10 : 2-16 Tipperary (July 7, 1991 at Páirc Uí Chaoimh) – The 1991 Munster final was regarded as a game to decide not only provincial honours but the destination of the All-Ireland title as well. Tipp looked like a defeated team in the early stages and fell 3-5 to 1-7 behind at the break courtesy of three goals shared by John Fitzgibbon and Ger FitzGerald. Young star John Leahy bagged the goal for Tipp; however, Fitzgibbon scored a fourth goal for Cork. The momentum moved towards Tipp after this; however, Nicky English had a perfectly legal later equalizer ruled out. Pat Fox leveled the game at the end and a replay was needed.
- Tipperary 4-19 : 4-15 Cork (July 20, 1991 at Semple Stadium) – The replay was even more exciting than the draw with Cork taking a nine-point lead at half-time. At the end of the third quarter a Kevin Hennessy goal left ‘the Rebels’ 3-13 to 1-10 in front. Star forward Nicky English was ruled out of the game through injury; however, the Tipp forwards proved an effective unit without him. Pat Fox produced a great goal to leave just three points between the sides. An overhead flick by Declan Carr subsequently leveled the sides as full-time approached. Tipp then went two points ahead while a Tomás Mulcahy shot on goal was cleared and resulted in Aidan Ryan scoring one of the all-time great Munster final goals for Tipp. John Fitzgibbon answered with a Cork goal; however, the momentum was with Tipperary who won by 4-19 to 4-15.
- Kerry 4-13 : 3-13 Waterford (May 23, 1993 at Walsh Park) – Kerry went into this match with great optimism, in spite of not having won a match in the Munster Championship since 1926. Waterford got off to a great start by scoring a goal inside the first minute, however, Kerry battled for every ball. After the interval Kerry were still in contention; however, Waterford pulled five points clear and an upset looked unlikely. A Christy Walsh goal brought ‘the Kingdom’ back into the game and a lucky goal from a long-range free from DJ Leahy gave Kerry the impetus to drive on and win the game.
- Clare 1-17 : 0-11 Limerick (July 9, 1995 at Semple Stadium) – After receiving two thrashings in the two previous Munster finals, nobody had reason to believe that Clare were about to break the hurling mould. The game went according to plan with Limerick taking an early lead; however, they conceded a penalty five minutes before the interval. Clare goalie Davy FitzGerald came all the way up the field to crash the sliotar into the net before running all the way back to defend his goalmouth. Clare hurled Limerick off the field in the second-half and won the game by 1-17 to 0-11. It was their first Munster title since 1932.
- Limerick 1-13 : 0-15 Clare (June 16, 1996 at the Gaelic Grounds) – Played on the hottest day of the year, Limerick set out to topple the reigning All-Ireland champions on the opening day of their campaign. In a game that had a draw written all over it, Clare acquitted themselves well in energy-sapping conditions. While the game entered the dying stages Pat Tobin leveled for Limerick and it looked like a replay would be required. The resultant puck-out fell into the hands of Limerick captain Ciarán Carey who took off on a remarkable solo-run. Balancing the sliotar on the end of his hurley, Carey ran 70 metres before sending over the greatest match-winner of all-time.
- Limerick 0-19 : 1-16 Tipperary (July 7, 1996 at the Gaelic Grounds) – Dismantling the reigning All-Ireland champions looked to be Limerick’s lot for the year as they trailed by ten points at half-time in the Munster final. The second thirty-five minutes, with Limerick having the strong wind at their backs, saw the situation reversed. Gary Kirby, Limerick's free-taker scored ten points in all, the last one in the 70th minute leaving the Limerick men trailing by just a single score. Frankie Carroll popped up to provide Limerick with the equalizer and a second chance to topple Tipperary.
- Waterford 2-23 : 3-12 Tipperary (June 30, 2002 at Páirc Uí Chaoimh) – Another Munster Championship game in which the record books were rewritten under the weight of expectation. Waterford were seeking a first Munster title in thirty-nine years, while Tipperary were the reigning provincial and All-Ireland champions. A point adrift at the interval, Waterford finished in style scoring 1-6 without reply in the final twenty minutes. Ken McGrath scored seven points from play, in spite of going into the game nursing a shoulder injury.
- Waterford 3-16 : 1-21 Cork (June 27, 2004 at Semple Stadium) – Regarded by many as possibly the greatest Munster final of them all, both Cork and Waterford provided the game that had everything. Cork hit top form from the start, after a ground shot from championship debutante Garvan McCarthy bobbled into the net for the opening goal. Both sides had some great battles in the opening thirty-five minutes and there was little separating the sides at the interval. Only three minutes after the restart John Mullane, one of Waterford's star forwards, was red-carded to make it fifteen versus fourteen. Waterford, however, seemed to play better without the extra man and an audacious and unexpected goal from Paul Flynn, from an outfield free, produced a fairytale finish for Waterford. A 3-16 to 1-21 score line gave Waterford a first win over Cork in a Munster final in forty-five years.
List of Munster Finals
- All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship
- Leinster Senior Hurling Championship
- Ulster Senior Hurling Championship
- Connacht Senior Hurling Championship
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