As Ireland ready’s itself for the 2011 Football and Hurling championships, SportsNewsIreland takes a look our national sport compared to the more popular sports in other countries.
Despite our love of the “garrison” games of Rugby and Soccer, Gaelic Football and Hurling remain the most popular games in Ireland, as thousands turn out each week to support their local club and county.
In recent times the Sam Maguire and Liam McCarthy cups have been accused of becoming a bit stagnant, as the same old counties dominate the winner list. But how does Ireland’s national game stand up against the best that Europe has to offer?
Starting with Gaelic Football: The last 10 years has seen Cork, Kerry, Tyrone, Armagh and Galway share 11 titles, with Kerry claiming 5 of those and Tyrone 3, thus a 50% success rate for the Kingdom. Since the first All Ireland in 1887, Kerry has won 36 titles, 14 ahead of their closest rivals Dublin.
Kerry and Dublin’s efforts in claiming 58 titles between them is 12 more than the combined efforts of footballing powerhouses Galway, Cork, Meath, Down, Cavan, Wexford, Kildare and Tipperary. A total of 20 county’s have tasted All Ireland success.
Moving to Hurling and the statistics show an even more uneven ration. Kilkenny, Cork and Tipperary have claimed a staggering 88 titles between them since the first final in 1887. In fact 20 counties in Ireland have never won an All Ireland hurling title.
Offaly was the last county outside the big three to win an All Ireland back in 1998. The 1990’s were the golden era for competitive hurling with Wexford and Clare joining Offaly in claiming crowns.
Limerick, who are the fourth most successful county, have not won an All Ireland since 1973, while national league winners Dublin, who have 6 All Ireland’s need to travel even further back in time to 1938 for their last win.
However if we compare these stats to Football, you see a similar story.
In Spain, over the same 10 year period only Deportivo and Valencia have managed to break the Barcelona and Rea Madrid stranglehold. Madrid has four titles to the credit, while Barcelona stand on the brink of their fourth of the decade and third in a row. In the overall standings, Real Madrid have won 31 titles to Barcelona’s 21.
Even the much hyped Premier League, despite its much vaunted top 4 and top 6 monikers that are bandied about, has its flaws. Only three teams have shared the last 11 titles.
Manchester United lead the way with 7, Chelsea 3 and Arsenal 2. However,the overall record show’s a more even spread, as United have won 19 titles to Liverpool’s 18, while Arsenal have 13, and “noveau riche” Chelsea’s 3 titles in the 2000’s see’s them up to 4 titles.
Germany and France’s distribution of titles is more evenly spread then other countries, despite the dominant forces of Bayern Munich and Lyon. Bayern Munich has won 6 titles in the last ten years, while Lyon claimed 7 in a row in the 2000’s.
Germany however can boast 5 different champions since 2000 with Werder Bremen, Borussia Dortmund, Stuggart and Wolfsburg all upsetting the Bayern Munich apple cart.
French football offers the biggest chance for any club looking to win a title; Nantes, Monaco, Bordeaux and Marseille have all won the title since the start of the 2000’s despite the emergence of Lyon as a footballing force.
Lyon, prior to their first title in 2002, had never won the Ligue one trophy but they ended the decade as the 4th most successful club in France with 7 titles, just three behind Saint Etienne and Marseille who each have won 10 titles. Recent title win’s for Bordeaux and Marseille have mixed up the winner’s enclosure again and brought back a sense of competition to French football.
However any fears that our national games are becoming too predictable should just take a look at the winners list in Scotland. The old firm of Rangers and Celtic boasts 95 titles between them, and it’s now 26 years since another team outside of these two won the title. That honour fell to Aberdeen,way back in 1985.