National Football League (Ireland)

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National Football League
Current season or competition:
Current event clock.svg 2021 National Football League
AllianzLeaguesLogo2011.png
Irish Sraith Náisiúnta Peile
Code Gaelic football
Founded 1925–26
Region Ireland (GAA)
TrophyIrish National Insurance Cup
No. of teams32 (usually)
31 (2021)
Title holders Kerry / Dublin (Kerry 22nd / Dublin 14th title)
Most titles Kerry (22 titles)
Sponsors Allianz
TV partner(s) TG4, Eir Sport, GAAGO (live games)
RTÉ2 (highlights)
MottoWhere your edge belongs
Official website www.gaa.ie/football/football-league-roinn-1/

The National Football League (NFL; Irish : Sraith Náisiúnta Peile) is an annual Gaelic football competition between the senior county teams of Ireland plus London. Sponsored by Allianz, it is officially known as the Allianz National Football League.

Contents

The Gaelic Athletic Association organises the league. The winning team receives the New Ireland Cup, presented by the New Ireland Assurance Company. The National Football League is the second most prestigious inter-county Gaelic Football competition after the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship. [1]

Unlike many league competitions in sport, each team plays the other teams in their division only once. Teams that meet in the same division over the course of a number of years often play on a home and away basis in alternative years, though this is not strictly adhered to. Once the divisional matches have been played, the latter stages of the league become a knockout competition for the top teams in each division. This is seen as good preparation for the upcoming All-Ireland Championship and there is usually more intensity to the division finals than those played earlier in the league, but still lacking the intensity of Championship matches.

Kerry are the current league champions, having won the 2020 league, which was interrupted and curtailed (knockout stages were abandoned) owing to COVID-19-related public health restrictions.

History

The National Football League was first held in 1925–26, thirty-eight years after the first All-Ireland Senior Football Championship. Laois won the inaugural National Football League. The NFL has traditionally played second fiddle to the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship, with most counties using it as preparation for that event. This was not helped by the fact that the league was initially played in winter (usually November–March), while the Championship had the more attractive summer dates and knockout structure.

Mayo dominated the early NFL, winning seven titles in eight seasons until the tournament was suspended during the Second World War. For many seasons in the 1950s and 1960s, the winners of the "home" league played New York in the NFL final; the journey to New York formed an additional prize for the winners. New York won three of these finals.

In 2002, the league was changed to a February–April calendar. This increased interest, boosted attendances and led to live games being broadcast on TG4. The 2009 season was broadcast live on Setanta Sports. Coverage of the 2010 finals in Croke Park saw TG4 become the most watched channel, with 650,000 viewers tuning in to watch some of the games. The Division 1 Final had an average audience of 220,000 viewers. [2]

The National Football League winners receive the Irish National Insurance Cup, first presented to Kerry in 1928–29. Kerry is the most successful team in the competition, having played in the final on twenty-six occasions and won twenty of these. Both of these (final appearances and wins) are records. Kerry also is the team to have most often achieved the "double", by winning both the league title and the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship.

Schedule

In the 20th century, National League fixtures were played during inter-county windows in the later and early months of the calendar year, while the SFC occupied the inter-county wondow during those months that made up the middle of the year, e.g. May, August. Club competitions of lesser importance occurred alongside the inter-county games so as to provide meaningful game time for players possessed of insufficient ability to compete at the higher (inter-county) level.

From 2002, National League fixtures were played during the early months of the calendar year, preceding the SFC, which remained in the traditional mid-year position. An April club window allowed inter-county players to return to their clubs to participate in some early rounds of the more important club competiitons, i.e. championship fixtures.

This arrangement was disrupted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the impact of the pandemic on Gaelic games, the 2020 National League was suspended in March and all Gaelic games ceased until the middle of the year, when club fixtures were first to resume. The National League was then completed in October, ahead of the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship (which was completed in December). This led to a motion (passed at the 2021 GAA Congress) to adopt a "split season" model, whereby club competitions would occupy one part of the calendar year and inter-county fixtures the other part. [3]

Finals listed by year

Winners

CountyWinsRunners-upWinning seasonsYears runners-up
Colours of Kerry.svg Kerry 227 1927–28, 1928–29, 1930–31, 1931–32, 1958–59, 1960–61, 1962–63, 1968–69, 1970–71, 1971–72, 1972–73, 1973–74, 1976–77, 1981–82, 1983–84, 1996–97, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2017, 2020, 2021 (shared) 1956–57, 1964–65, 1979–80, 1986–87, 2008, 2016, 2019,
Colours of Dublin.svg Dublin 1414 1952–53, 1954–55, 1957–58, 1975–76, 1977–78, 1986–87, 1990–91, 1992–93, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2021 (shared) 1925–26, 1933–34, 1940–41, 1951–52, 1961–62, 1966–67, 1974–75, 1976–77, 1987–88, 1988–89, 1998–99, 2011, 2017, 2020
Colours of Mayo.svg Mayo 127 1933–34, 1934–35, 1935–36, 1936–37, 1937–38, 1938–39, 1940–41, 1948–49, 1953–54, 1969–70, 2000–01, 2019 1950–51, 1970–71, 1971–72, 1977–78, 2007, 2010, 2012
Colours of Cork.svg Cork 86 1951–52, 1955–56, 1979–80, 1988–89, 1998–99, 2010, 2011, 2012 1931–32, 1947–48, 1978–79, 1981–82, 1996–97, 2015
Colours of Meath.svg Meath 76 1932–33, 1945–46, 1950–51, 1974–75, 1987–88, 1989–90, 1993–94 1936–37, 1938–39, 1939–40, 1949–50, 1954–55, 1955–56, 1999–2000
Colours of Derry.svg Derry 66 1946–47, 1991–92, 1994–95, 1995–96, 1999–2000, 2008 1958–59, 1960–61, 1975–76, 1997–98, 2009, 2014
Colours of Galway.svg Galway 46 1939-40, 1956-57, 1964-65, 1980-81 1965–66, 1983–84, 2000–01, 2004, 2006, 2018
Colours of Down.svg Down 44 1959–60, 1961–62, 1967–68, 1982–83 1962–63, 1963–64, 1969–70, 1989–90
Colours of New York.svg New York [note 1] 37 1949–50, 1963–64, 1966–67
Colours of Tyrone.svg Tyrone 22 2002, 2003 1991–92, 2013
Colours of Laois.svg Laois 21 1925–26, 1985–86 2003
Colours of Cavan.svg Cavan 15 1947–48 1930–31, 1932–33, 1952–53, 1959–60, 2002
Colours of Donegal.svg Donegal 13 2007 1992–93, 1994–95, 1995–96
Colours of Armagh.svg Armagh 13 2005 1982–83, 1984–85, 1993–94
Colours of Roscommon.svg Roscommon 12 1978–79 1973–74, 1980–81
Colours of Offaly.svg Offaly 12 1997–98 1968–69, 1972–73
Colours of Monaghan.svg Monaghan 11 1984–85 1985–86
Colours of Longford.svg Longford 10 1965–66
Colours of Kildare.svg Kildare 05 1927–28, 1928–29, 1957–58, 1967–68, 1990–91
Colours of Wexford.svg Wexford 03 1937–38, 1945–46, 2005
Colours of Carlow.svg Carlow 01 1953–54
Colours of Louth.svg Louth 01 1948–49
Colours of Fermanagh.svg Fermanagh 01 1934–35
  1. New York received a bye to the final in 10 NFL seasons between 1949–50 and 1988–89.

The provinces by number of wins are as follows:

ProvinceWinsTop countyLast win
1 Flag of Munster.svg Munster 30 Kerry (22)Kerry (2021)
2 Flag of Leinster.svg Leinster 25 Dublin (14)Dublin (2021)
3= Flag of Ulster.svg Ulster 16 Derry (6)Derry (2008)
3= Flag of Connacht.svg Connacht 16 Mayo (12)Mayo (2019)
5Overseas3 New York (3)New York (1966–67)

Records and statistics

See also

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References

  1. Scott, Ronan (30 January 2009). "Only the league...". Gaelic Life. p. 10.
  2. "VIEWING FIGURES FOR GAA BEO - ALLIANZ FOOTBALL LEAGUE FINALS 2010". TG4. 27 April 2010. Archived from the original on 11 May 2010. Retrieved 3 May 2010.
  3. "Congress: Split GAA season with July All-Ireland finals coming next year". Hogan Stand. 27 February 2021.