Nicky Rackard Cup
|Country||Ireland (8 teams)|
|Number of teams||8|
|Level on pyramid||3|
|Promotion to||Christy Ring Cup|
|Relegation to||Lory Meagher Cup|
|TV partners||TG4 (Final only)|
|Website||Official GAA site|
|2017 Nicky Rackard Cup|
The Nicky Rackard Cup (often referred to as the Rackard Cup) is the third-highest senior inter-county championship overall in hurling. Each year, the champion team in the Nicky Rackard Cup is promoted to the Christy Ring Cup, and the lowest finishing team enters a play-off with possible relegation to the Lory Meagher Cup.
The Nicky Rackard Cup, which was introduced for the 2005 season, is a recent initiative in providing a meaningful championship for third tier teams deemed "too weak" for any higher grades.
In 2003 the Hurling Development Committee (HDC) was charged with restructuring the entire hurling championship. The committee was composed of chairman Pat Dunny (Kildare), Liam Griffin (Wexford), P. J. O'Grady (Limerick), Ger Loughnane (Clare), Cyril Farrell (Galway), Jimmy O'Reilly (Down), Willie Ring (Cork), Pat Daly (GAA Games Development Officer) and Nicky English (Tipperary). Over the course of three months they held discussions with managers, players and officials, while also taking a submission from the Gaelic Players Association. The basic tenet of the proposals was to structure the hurling championship into three tiers in accordance with 2004 National Hurling League status. The top tier was confined to 12 teams, while the next twenty teams would contest the second and third tiers which were to be known respectively as the Christy Ring Cup and Nicky Rackard Cup. There would also be promotion-relegation play-offs between the three championship tiers. The HDC also suggested that these games would be played as curtain raisers to All-Ireland quarter-finals and semi-finals.
The twelve participating teams were divided into three groups of four and played in a round-robin format. Each team was guaranteed at least three games each. The three group winners qualified for the knock-out semi-finals of the competition. The runners-up in groups 3B and 3C contested a play-off with the winner playing the runner up in group 3A in a lone quarter-final. The winner of that match joined the three group winners in the semi-finals.
The twelve participating teams were divided into four groups of three and played in a round-robin format, thus limiting each team to just two games each. The eventual group winners and runners-up qualified for the knock-out quarter-finals of the competition.
In 2009 a double elimination format was introduced, thus guaranteeing each team at least two games before being eliminated from the competition.
- The eight teams play four Round 1 matches.
- The winners in Round 1 advance to Round 2A.
- The losers in Round 1 go into to Round 2B.
- There are two Round 2A matches.
- The winners in Round 2A advance to the semi-finals.
- The losers in Round 2A go into to the quarter-finals.
- There are two Round 2B matches.
- The winners in Round 2B advance to the quarter-finals.
- The losers in Round 2B go into the relegation playoff.
- The losers of the relegation playoff are relegated to the Lory Meagher Cup for the following year.
- There are two quarter-final matches between the Round 2A losers and Round 2B winners.
- The winners of the quarter-finals advance to the semi-finals.
- The losers of the quarter-finals are eliminated.
- There are two semi-final matches between the Round 2A winners and the quarter-final winners.
- The winners of the semi-finals advance to the final.
- The losers of the semi-finals are eliminated.
- The winners of the final win the Nicky Rackard Cup and are promoted to the Christy Ring Cup for the following year.
Teams participating in the 2016 season
The following 8 teams will be competing in the 2016 Nicky Rackard Cup.
|Team||Finishing position last season|
|Fermanagh||Promoted from the Lory Meagher Cup|
|Mayo||Relegation from the Christy Ring Cup|
|August 21||London||5-8 (23)||Louth||1-05 (8)||Croke Park, Dublin|
|August 12||Derry||5-15 (30)||Donegal||1-11 (14)||Croke Park, Dublin|
|August 12||Roscommon||1-12 (15)||Armagh||0-13 (13)||Croke Park, Dublin|
|August 3||Sligo||3-19 (28)||Louth||3-10 (19)||Croke Park, Dublin|
|July 11||Meath||2-18 (24)||London||1-15 (18)||Croke Park, Dublin|
|July 3||Armagh||3-15 (24)||London||3-14 (23)||Croke Park, Dublin|
|June 4||London||2-20 (26)||Louth||0-11 (11)||Croke Park, Dublin|
|June 9||Armagh||3-20 (29)||Louth||1-15 (18)||Croke Park, Dublin|
|June 8||Donegal||3-20 (29)||Roscommon||3-16 (25)||Croke Park, Dublin|
|June 7||Tyrone||1-17 (20)||Fingal||1-16 (19)||Croke Park, Dublin|
|June 6||Roscommon||2-12 (18)||Armagh||1-14 (17)||Croke Park, Dublin|
|June 4||Mayo||2-16 (22)||Armagh||1-15 (18)||Croke Park, Dublin|
|June 10||Derry||3-23 (32)||Armagh||2-15 (21)||Croke Park, Dublin|
Roll of Honour
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|2014||John Matthew Sheridan||Fingal||0-11||11|
- Keys, Colm (10 December 2003). "Hurling evangelists have radical tiers in their eyes". Irish Independent. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
- "Nicky Rackard final: Orchard blooms against Louth". Hogan Stand. 9 June 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
- "Rackard glory for 14-man Donegal". RTÉ Sport. 8 June 2013. Retrieved 8 June 2013.
- "Nicky Rackard Cup: Tyrone edge Fingal". Hogan Stand. 7 June 2014. Retrieved 11 June 2014.
- "Kelly the Nicky Rackard hero for Roscommon". Irish Times. 7 June 2015. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
- "Nicky Rackard Cup". Commercial Enterprises Ltd. Archived from the original on March 11, 2013. Retrieved March 9, 2013.