The 12 days of HPNXmas is our way of giving back over the holiday period, and providing a place for some of our thoughts that didn’t get run for whatever reason during the year.
In order to maintain our name, we are contractually obliged to post at least once every year on hurling. Consider this that post.
All Ireland Senior Hurling Championship
The main show in hurling is the Championship, a multi-staged knockout and repechage process that starts with provincial competition, inserts teams at different points, and culminates in a final match in early September in Dublin. Draws are replayed. The event naturally evokes poetry like this:
After a somewhat convoluted qualification stage, Tipperary and Kilkenny both showed their strength in the Munster and Leinster competitions respectively, with Tipp particularly strong in their destruction of Waterford in their final. Those two teams thus qualified to the penultimate stage of the Championship, the semi finals. That doesn’t confer home ground advantage – the semifinals all happen at Croke Park in Dublin. Other teams made up the earlier stages of the All-Ireland.
Waterford bounced back in the All-Ireland Quarters, beating qualifier Wexford by 10. Galway eased to a similar win over Clare, setting up a reverse match of the two finals above. Unlike the provincial finals, both matches were very tight, and decided by less than a goal. However, it was both provincial champions who prevailed, setting up a rematch of the epic 2014 finals (which were won by Kilkenny after the replay).
The final was a high scoring match – the highest of the 2016 championship. But the Premier County (Tipperary) ended up getting the majority of them, led by a goal from HPN favourite John “Bubbles” O’Dwyer. Full-forward Séamus Callanan was named the Man of the Match with a massive 13 points, as Tipp took the cup home for the 27th time.
Austin Gleeson, from losing semi-finalist Waterford, was named as both the Hurler of the Year and the Young Hurler of the Year, and certainly shapes as a top prospect for The Déise in the years to come.
National Hurling League
The League competition in Hurling is often considered the secondary inter-county competition, in contrast so soccer which usually values its league more highly than its knockout cups.
In the 2016 NHL Clare broke their long drought in the Spring competition, winning their first title since 1978. Perhaps even more impressively, Clare won the title from Division 1B, the “second” tier of Division 1 the NHL. It was the second year in a row a side from 1B had pulled off the upset win, with Waterford winning in 2015. Some Irish punters are starting to suggest that the easier path to success is through 1B, but only time will tell.
In Division 2A, Westmeath pulled a mild upset over Carlow, who beat them during the round robin. Armagh pulled a similar upset over Down in 2B, whilst Roscommon dominated Division 3A. And in Division 3B, Fermanagh won promotion for 2017, whilst Sligo finished at the absolute bottom of the pyramid for the year despite a win over the 3B champions.
The Interprovincial Championships, or Railway Cups, see an amalgamation of the county teams representing their respective provinces.As expected, Munster and Leinster won through to the final, which Munster won on the strength of a strong bench performance.
All-Ireland Senior Club Championships
If counties make up the provinces, then clubs make up the counties. The SCC sometimes sees relatively unheralded clubs and counties break through for victories, and 2016 saw Na Piarsaigh break through for their first SCC title, and the first for any club from Limerick.Ruairí Óg, from Antrim, were also vying for their first title, but fell short on the day.
All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championships
Camogie, the female variation of hurling, saw Kilkenny break through for their first title since 1994, beating Cork in the final. Kilkenny was able to complete the double, and walked away with the National Camogie League title as well in a strong performance.