Walsh Cup (hurling)
Current season or competition:|
2016 Walsh Cup
|Trophy||Thomas Walsh Memorial Cup|
|No. of teams||15 (2016)|
|Title holders||Dublin (7th title)|
|Most titles||Kilkenny (19 titles)|
|Sponsors||Bord na Móna|
|Motto||Commitment, Community, Respect|
The Walsh Cup (Irish: Corn Bhreatnach) is an annual hurling competition staged in Ireland by the Leinster Council of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) since 1954. Contested by the top county and college teams from the provinces of Leinster, Ulster and Connacht, the tournament consists of a round-robin group stage, followed by a knockout stage. Sponsored by Bord na Móna, it is therefore officially known as the Bord na Móna Walsh Cup.
The Walsh Cup is part of a series of GAA tournaments known as The Bord na Móna Leinster GAA Series, along with the Kehoe Cup (second-tier hurling teams) and the O'Byrne Cup (Gaelic football). The money generated by these competitions helps address hardship suffered by players and ordinary members of the GAA in Leinster. This scheme is the only one of its kind offered by a provincial GAA council. Apart from this, the competitions provide an opportunity for the county teams to prepare for the upcoming National Hurling League, as well as preparing the college teams for the upcoming Fitzgibbon Cup.
Fifteen teams currently participate in the Walsh Cup, most of which are from the province of Leinster. The tournament has been won at least once by nine different teams, six of which have won the title more than once. The all-time record-holders are Kilkenny, who have won the competition 19 times. Galway are the current champions, having won the 2015 final.
The Walsh Cup is a multistage tournament, consisting of a round-robin group stage followed by a knockout stage, with each match played as a single leg. The groups are drawn in November or December of the previous year and seeding is based on the results of the most recent championship. The Walsh Cup runs from January to February, with most games played on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and the others on weekday evenings. The four winning teams from each group progress to the semi-finals of the knockout stage. In the event of a tie between two teams in the same group, the winner is decided by the outcome of the meeting between the two teams in the previous game in the competition, then by the biggest score difference, then by the highest total points and then by a playoff. In the knockout stages, if a match ends in a draw, it is settled in extra time. However, if the score remains level at the end of extra time, a replay takes place and so on until a winner is found.
Only the top county and college teams from the provinces of Leinster, Ulster and Connacht are eligible to compete in the Walsh Cup. Promotion to the Walsh Cup is not necessarily guaranteed by winning the Kehoe Cup, but rather based on a mutual decision made by the Leinster Council and the team in question. Within the Leinster GAA series, a player can play with his college in one competition and with his county in another in the same province or in a different province. However he cannot play for two teams in the same competition. Each college has the first call on 10 players from Leinster. This list has to be submitted to the Leinster Council by December of the previous year.
Fifteen teams currently participate in the Walsh Cup. The county teams include Antrim, Carlow, Dublin, Galway, Kilkenny, Laois, Meath, Offaly, Westmeath and Wexford, while the college teams include DIT, DCU, IT Carlow, NUIG and UCD.
The venues of Walsh Cup matches are decided during the draw by the first named team's home venue, except colleges, who have away fixtures in all rounds. Where a college team is drawn against another college team, then the first named team is at home. Because the early stages of the Walsh Cup do not attract large crowds, matches are often held in smaller stadia within each county. The Walsh Cup final has, in recent years, been played at the GAA's headquarters in Croke Park in Dublin, as part of a double header with the O'Byrne Cup.
The following stadia are frequently used during the Walsh Cup:
|Dr Cullen Park||Carlow||Carlow||21,000|
At the end of the final, the winning team is presented with a trophy, known as the "Walsh Cup", which they hold until the following year's final. Traditionally, the presentation is made by the Leinster Council 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 adorns both teams' colours 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 in Irish and then English. Individual members of the winning team then have an opportunity to come to the rostrum to lift the cup.
The trophy is named after former Leinster Council chairman, Tom Walsh, and was commissioned by back in 1956, making it one of the longest serving trophies in inter-county hurling. It consists of a sterling silver cup with two large handles and a round mahogany base. It is decorated in the insular style, typically found on ancient Irish chalices. A girdle of eight panels encircles the top of the cup, meeting the top of the handles on either side. Each of the panels are decorated with animal ornament and interlace, and are separated by decorated studs. The large handles are decorated in a similar manner. There is an inscription in Irish on the front of the cup below the girdle, reading "Corn Cuimhneacháin Tomás Breatnach", which translates to "Thomas Walsh Memorial Cup".
Since January 2012, the Walsh Cup has been sponsored. To protect the identity of the competition, the sponsored name has always included 'Walsh Cup' in addition to the sponsor's name, unlike sponsorship deals where the word 'cup' is preceded by only the sponsor's name. The tournament's sponsorship also helps to finance the Leinster GAA's Benevolent Fund. This fund is used to alleviate hardship among players, mentors and families who are in financial difficulty and is administered through the twelve counties of Leinster. In the past, it has helped local communities, families and players to finance medical bills, rebuild homes lost through tragic circumstances and made financial payments to assist disabled players. The Walsh cup is currently sponsored by Bord na Móna, hence it is officially known as the "Bord na Móna Walsh Cup".
Below is a list of sponsors and the sponsored name of the competition:
|1954–1955||No sponsor||Leinster Accident Fund Tournament|
|1956–2011||No sponsor||Walsh Cup|
|2012–2016||Bord na Móna||Bord na Móna Walsh Cup|
In 1954, the Leinster Council established a new inter-county football and hurling tournament in an effort to raise funds to supplement the medical bills of players who were in financial difficulty. This scheme, known as the Players' Injury Fund, was the first of its kind to be offered by a provincial GAA council. Originally known as the Leinster Accident Fund Tournament, the competition started as a knockout tournament for the 12 counties in Leinster. In its inaugural year, the hurling competition was the first to be played out and was won by Wexford, who beat Dublin in the final by 1-8 to 0-2. The final took place on September 19, 1954 in Enniscorthy. In 1956, the Kilkenny firm Mahon and McPhillips donated a cup to the Leinster Council to honour former Leinster chairman, Tom Walsh, following his sudden death. The Leinster Council presented this cup to the winners of the hurling competition of the Leinster Accident Fund Tournament later that year. As a result, the hurling competition became known as the Walsh Cup. The first team to lift the Walsh Cup was the newly crowned All-Ireland champions, Wexford, after they beat Kilkenny in the final by 2-10 to 1-8.
The Walsh Cup was dominated by Kilkenny, Wexford and Dublin during the fifties and sixties, but was not contested for much of the seventies. In 1977, a second cup was presented to the Leinster Council for a hurling competition which became known as the Kehoe Cup. The Leinster Council decided to alternate it with the Walsh Cup between the stronger and developing counties for the Players' Injury Fund. This resulted in Kilkenny and Wexford being moved to the newly formed Kehoe Cup. In their absence, Offaly went on to win the Walsh Cup for the first time, beating Dublin in the final by a scoreline of 7-7 to 1-7. The Walsh Cup was not contested over the next two years and in 1978, Dublin moved to the Kehoe Cup. When the Walsh Cup resumed in 1980, Kilkenny, Wexford and Dublin all remained in the Kehoe Cup, allowing teams such as Laois and Westmeath to win the Walsh Cup in 1980 and 1982 respectively. There was a break in the competition again between 1983 and 1986. When it recommenced in 1987, it was decided by the Leinster Council that the Walsh Cup would be contested by the stronger hurling counties and the Kehoe Cup by the developing counties.
The Walsh Cup remained relatively unchanged throughout the nineties, with Wexford and Offaly dominating the tournament. Between 1995 and 2002, Wexford won a record 8 consecutive titles. Their dominance ended in 2003 when Dublin, who had not won the Walsh Cup since 1966, defeated National League and All-Ireland champions, Kilkenny, in a dramatic final by a scoreline of 2-11 to 2-10 in front of a home crowd at Parnell Park. That same year, the Down hurlers made history by becoming the first non-Leinster team to enter the competition. In 2004, UCD entered the first college team in the Walsh Cup and even went on to win the tournament. In a historic final in Nolan Park, the Students beat the reigning All-Ireland champions, Kilkenny, by 2-16 to 0-5. Antrim followed suit of Down when they joined the competition in 2005 and made history three years later by becoming the first team from Ulster to win the tournament. They lifted the Walsh Cup in front of a home crowd in Casement Park after defeating Offaly by 3-9 to 2-7. That year also saw the introduction of a knock-out competition between the losing teams from the first round, which became known as the Walsh Cup Shield. The purpose of the shield was to give the losing teams more than one competitive game in preparation for the upcoming season. In 2009, Galway became the first team from Connacht to enter the Walsh Cup, which came about as part of their move from the Connacht Championship to the Leinster Championship in a bid to play more competitive provincial hurling. Along with the county hurlers, Galway colleges GMIT and NUIG entered the Walsh cup, as well as Dublin college DIT. The following year, Galway won the Walsh Cup for the first time, beating Dublin in the final by 1-22 to 1-15.
In December 2011, the Leinster Council announced a three-year sponsorship deal with Bord na Móna, providing the competition with a title sponsor for the first time in its history. The new partnership, which also sponsored the Kehoe Cup and O'Byrne Cup, became known as The Bord na Móna Leinster GAA Series. In 2015, the format of the Walsh Cup changed to include a round-robin group stage in addition to the knockout stages. This meant that every team entered the tournament at the same stage and was guaranteed multiple competitive games. As a result, the Walsh Cup Shield was discontinued. The introduction of the group stages meant that more than 12 teams could now compete in the Walsh Cup. In 2016, a record 15 teams entered the tournament, with college teams from DCU and IT Carlow making their debut.
Records and statistics
The Walsh Cup has been contested 53 times since it was first held in 1954. The first team to win the tournament was Wexford, who have since held the title on 15 occasions and been runners-up 12 times. The most successful team has been Kilkenny, who have won 19 titles and been runners-up 15 times. A total of 9 different teams have won the tournament since it began, 7 of which were from Leinster, one from Connacht (Galway) and one from Ulster (Antrim). Of the remaining 6 Leinster teams, Carlow, Meath and Wicklow are yet to win the competition, while Kildare, Longford and Louth are yet to even contest a final. UCD are the only college team to have ever won the tournament.
Roll of honour
|Team||Winners||Runners-up||Years winners||Years runners-up|
||1955, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1970, 1973, 1974, 1988, 1989, 1992, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2014||1956, 1960, 1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2011|
||1954, 1956, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1987, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002||1959, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1970, 1973, 1989, 1992, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2013, 2016|
||1960, 1964, 1966, 2003, 2011, 2013, 2016||1954, 1957, 1958, 1969, 1977, 1997, 2010, 2014, 2015|
||1977, 1981, 1990, 1993, 1994||1966, 1974, 1987, 1995, 2008|
||2010, 2015||2009, 2012|
||1980, 1991||1981, 1988, 1996, 2001|
|2008||Antrim||3-9 (18)||Offaly||2-7 (13)||Casement Park, Belfast|
|2009AET||Kilkenny||2-17 (23)||Galway||1-18 (21)||Freshford, Co. Kilkenny|
|2010||Galway||1-22 (25)||Dublin||1-15 (18)||Parnell Park, Donnycarney|
|2011||Dublin||2-17 (23)||Kilkenny||2-13 (19)||Parnell Park, Donnycarney|
|2012||Kilkenny||2-20 (26)||Galway||1-14 (17)||Pearse Stadium, Salthill|
|2013||Dublin||1-19 (22)||Wexford||0-16 (16)||Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford|
|2014||Kilkenny||0-24 (24)||Dublin||1-17 (20)||Croke Park, Dublin|
|2015||Galway||1-22 (25)||Dublin||1-20 (23)||Croke Park, Dublin|
|2016||Dublin||1-22 (25)||Wexford||1-12 (15)||Croke Park, Dublin|
AET: After extra time.
Walsh Cup Shield
Roll of honour
|Team||Winners||Runners-up||Years winners||Years runners-up|
Competition defunct as of 2015.
|2008||Laois||2-14 (20)||Westmeath||2-11 (17)||Kinnegad, Co. Westmeath|
|2009||Dublin||1-20 (23)||Offaly||2-15 (21)||Banagher, Co. Offaly|
|2010||Laois||1-16 (18)||Carlow||1-10 (13)||Dr. Cullen Park, Carlow|
|2011R||Offaly||3-23 (32)||Carlow||2-14 (20)||O'Moore Park, Port Laoise|
|2012||Offaly||0-22 (22)||DIT||1-14 (17)||O'Moore Park, Port Laoise|
|2013||DIT||3-13 (22)||Westmeath||2-5 (11)||Mullingar, Co. Westmeath|
|2014||Carlow||1-16 (19)||Westmeath||1-7 (10)||Dr. Cullen Park, Carlow|
R: Replayed after original final was abandoned in extra time.
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