The Liam MacCarthy Cup with a Limerick and Kilkenny jersey and ahead of the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Final.
The Liam MacCarthy Cup with a Limerick and Kilkenny jersey and ahead of the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Final.

All Ireland SHC Final 2022 - The anorak's almanac

By Cian Murphy

Setting records is nothing new when it comes to the All-Ireland final meetings of Kilkenny and Limerick if you care to trawl through the records and archives of the GAA.

They first met in a final in October 1898 to complete the All-Ireland championships of 1897. With both sides seeking their first-ever title it was Limerick who emerged victorious by 3-4 to 2-4. Limerick, represented by Kilfinane, defeated Tullaroan of Kilkenny and according to folklore did so bare foot and were made famous for the innovative tactic of ‘hooking’ their opponents which was unknown before then. They were also the first Limerick team to feature in their now familiar green jerseys.

The late 20s and the 1930s are regarded as the age when the popularity of Gaelic games soared and the battle for the Liam MacCarthy and Sam Maguire cups captured the imagination of the Irish public like never before.

The rivalry of Limerick and Kilkenny is credited with having a big part to play in this.

Their meeting in the 1933 decider set a then stadium record attendance of more than 45,000 spectators at Croke Park. The size of the crowd was a factor in the GAA authorities reviewing the ability of Croke Park to cater for large crowds and would lead to the construction and opening of a new Cusack Stand in 1938.

Limerick's 1921 All Ireland winning panel.
Limerick's 1921 All Ireland winning panel.

Limerick were well known for bringing good crowds to Croke Park. Their visit for the final against Wexford in 1910 was the first time that sideline seats were available on Jones’s Road. There were seven hundred chairs laid out and more borrowed from nearby houses to meet demand for the seats which cost two shillings and sixpence.

Kilkenny defeated Limerick 1-7 to 0-6 in 1933. Limerick tasted glory when they defeated Dublin in a replay the following year and then suffered a 2-5 to 2-4 defeat to Kilkenny in the 1935 final before the Mick Mackey inspired team recorded a 5-6 to 1-5 triumph over the Cats in the 1936 decider.

Kilkenny had to wait until 1904 for their first senior crown but they quickly made up for lost time, winning four that decade and three the next and have been successful in every decade since. They head up the roll of honour and seek their 37th title this weekend.

The teams last met in a final in 2007 when Kilkenny comfortably carried the day as part of their history equaling four in a row success of the 2006-2009 era and this will be the counties ninth meeting in a senior final.

Limerick seek a first ever three in a row for the Treaty County, but their supporters will feel that were it not for the one-point semi-final setback in 2019 to the Cats, they too could be looking at a shot at four in a row immortality today. It’s a similar sentiment in Kilkenny who regard their 1973 defeat by Limerick as the fly in the ointment of that era as they were victorious in 1972, 1974 and 1975, featuring a youthful Brian Cody in their ranks as well as future GAA President Nickey Brennan.

Limerick’s Declan Hannon sits alongside Cork legend Christy Ring as having the distinction of being a captain for three Liam MacCarthy Cup winning teams. Ring did it in 1946, 1953 and 1954. Hannon has been the leader for Limerick in 2018, 2020 and 2021 and victory in 2022 would put him out on his own with only Dublin football goalkeeping legend Stephen Cluxton for company who was skipper for six victories in 2013, 2015, ‘16, ‘17, ‘18 and ‘19. In the pre–MacCarthy Cup era Mikey Maher of Tubberadora led Tipperary to their success in 1895, 1896 and 1898. Dick ‘Drug’ Walsh captained Kilkenny to their successes in 1907, 1909 and 1913.

Mick Crotty, Kilkenny, with team mate Jim Lynch, extreme right, has a shot blocked by Éamonn Cregan and Pat Hartigan of Limerick during the 1973 All Ireland Hurling Final at Croke Park.
Mick Crotty, Kilkenny, with team mate Jim Lynch, extreme right, has a shot blocked by Éamonn Cregan and Pat Hartigan of Limerick during the 1973 All Ireland Hurling Final at Croke Park.

One week on from the All-Ireland junior football success of the Kilkenny footballers, it is worth remembering the Grace brothers of Tullaroan who, between them, won seven football medals with Dublin. Jack featured in 1901, 1902, 1906, 1907 and 1909 and Pierce who was present in 1906 and 1907. Pierce later won hurling medals with his native Kilkenny in 1911, 1912 and 1913. Jack meanwhile is the only man to have captained All-Ireland winning sides in football and hurling and he is recorded as having played for Dublin in three All-Ireland finals in the space of four Sundays in July 1904.

Not a fan of the short puck out? In the 1905 final between Kilkenny and Cork, a puck out by James Kelleher of Dungourney is said to have travelled down field, hoped once and over the bar for a Cork point untouched by any other player. Cork won 5-10 to 3-13 but an objection over the eligibility of a Cork player was upheld and in the replay Kilkenny’s Jimmy Kelly is said to have scored all seven goals in their 7-7 to 2-9 victory.

Limerick are unbeaten now for three years in Championship. But they have some way to go to eclipse the Limerick team of the 30s who in the 55 months from October 15 1933 to April 24 1938 played 65 games in Ireland, Britain and America winning 58, drawing four and losing just three. They won the national hurling league for five successive years in a row from 34-38.

It wasn’t until after 1913 that the GAA asked counties to register their colours. In the first 20 years of the Championship, it was the county champions who represented the county and played in their club colours. Disputes between clubs would spill over into the choice of county colours. The striking black and amber Kilkenny jersey was agreed upon to settle a dispute between Mooncoin and Tullaoran and have been their official jersey since 1911.

Limerick wore a green and white hooped jersey when they won the 1921 All-Ireland final and received the first ever Liam MacCarthy Cup, a match not played until 1923 because of the political upheaval of the time. They settled on all green shortly after.

The inspiration behind the design of the All-Ireland medal is the Celtic cross in Monasterboice near Drogheda, Co Louth and a monastic site founded by St Buite in the 5th Century who was an original follower of St Patrick.