Kilkenny hurlers showed why the league matters in the modern era

Brian Cody guided the Cats to six doubles, while Limerick also managed the feat in 2020
Kilkenny hurlers showed why the league matters in the modern era

Cork's Eoin Cadogan under pressure from Colin Fennelly and TJ Reid of Kilkenny in the 2012 league final. Picture: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

AS we wait for updates on the direction in which way this year’s GAA road map will take us, there remains continued uncertainty regarding the staging of the National Leagues.

Should some version of the leagues be given the green light to go ahead, they will certainly happen in a more condensed time frame. As a result, it should be easier for teams to maintain form as they seek to win both competitions in one year.

Most observers will again put champions Limerick at the head of the hurling pack as they bid to continue their current supremacy. 

The Shannonsiders spanned a very wide gap in 2020, picking up on the impressive form they had displayed in the springtime to retain their League crown and turn the season gold with their All-Ireland win.

Through the corridors of time there have been 23 occasions when both major pots of hurling silverware have ended up in the same trophy cabinet. Interestingly the double has been achieved eight times in the past 20 years, as opposed to only 15 times in the previous 69 occasions since the inception of the league. 

Limerick’s success last year, albeit after their championship opener against Clare doubled up as the League final, saw them complete the double for the first time since 1935.

Brian Cody has led Kilkenny to five league and championship doubles: 2002, '03, '06, '09, '12 and '14. The legendary Kilkenny boss was following in his own footsteps having lifted both trophies as captain in 1982.

For the record Cork hurlers completed the double in 1926, 1941 and 1953. The 1925-26 National League was in fact, the very first year of the competition and the decider saw Cork captained by full-back Seán Óg Murphy defeat Dublin by 3-7 to 1-5 at the Athletic Grounds. 

The Rebels celebrated in style later in the year when they overcame Kilkenny by 4-6 to 2-0 in the All-Ireland final.

Fifteen years on, a new crop of players followed in similar footsteps. as Dublin were again defeated in the final on the banks of the Lee and Connie Buckley led them to more silverware with a victory over the same opposition in Croke Park in the championship showpiece.

The last time Cork completed the hurling double saw both finals played in Croke Park. Tipperary were beaten on a 2-10 to 2-7 scoreline in April 1953, with Cork led by Christy Ring crowning a great year with victory over Galway in the September All-Ireland final on a 3-3 to 0-8 scoreline.

Now, 68 years on, who knows what the much-awaited revamped master fixture plan has in store for us in 2021?

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