National Football League (Ireland)

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.

National Football League
Current season or competition:
2022 National Football League
AllianzLeaguesLogo2011.png
IrishSraith Náisiúnta Peile
CodeGaelic football
Founded1925–26
RegionIreland (GAA)
TrophyIrish National Insurance Cup
No. of teams32 (usually)
31 (2021)
Title holdersKerry / Dublin (Kerry 22nd / Dublin 14th title)
Most titlesKerry (22 titles)
SponsorsAllianz
TV partner(s)TG4, Eir Sport, GAAGO (live games)
RTÉ2 (highlights)
MottoWhere your edge belongs
Official websitewww.gaa.ie/football/football-league-roinn-1/

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.

HistoryEdit

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.

ScheduleEdit

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 competitions, 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 yearEdit

WinnersEdit

County Wins Runners-up Winning seasons Years runners-up
  Kerry 22 7 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,
  Dublin 14 14 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
  Mayo 12 7 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
  Cork 8 6 1951–52, 1955–56, 1979–80, 1988–89, 1998–99, 2010, 2011, 2012 1931–32, 1947–48, 1978–79, 1981–82, 1996–97, 2015
  Meath 7 6 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
  Derry 6 6 1946–47, 1991–92, 1994–95, 1995–96, 1999–2000, 2008 1958–59, 1960–61, 1975–76, 1997–98, 2009, 2014
  Galway 4 6 1939-40, 1956-57, 1964-65, 1980-81 1965–66, 1983–84, 2000–01, 2004, 2006, 2018
  Down 4 4 1959–60, 1961–62, 1967–68, 1982–83 1962–63, 1963–64, 1969–70, 1989–90
  New York[note 1] 3 7 1949–50, 1963–64, 1966–67
  Tyrone 2 2 2002, 2003 1991–92, 2013
  Laois 2 1 1925–26, 1985–86 2003
  Cavan 1 5 1947–48 1930–31, 1932–33, 1952–53, 1959–60, 2002
  Donegal 1 3 2007 1992–93, 1994–95, 1995–96
  Armagh 1 3 2005 1982–83, 1984–85, 1993–94
  Roscommon 1 2 1978–79 1973–74, 1980–81
  Offaly 1 2 1997–98 1968–69, 1972–73
  Monaghan 1 1 1984–85 1985–86
  Longford 1 0 1965–66
  Kildare 0 5 1927–28, 1928–29, 1957–58, 1967–68, 1990–91
  Wexford 0 3 1937–38, 1945–46, 2005
  Carlow 0 1 1953–54
  Louth 0 1 1948–49
  Fermanagh 0 1 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:

Province Wins Top county Last win
1   Munster 30 Kerry (22) Kerry (2021)
2   Leinster 25 Dublin (14) Dublin (2021)
3=   Ulster 16 Derry (6) Derry (2008)
3=   Connacht 16 Mayo (12) Mayo (2019)
5 Overseas 3 New York (3) New York (1966–67)

Records and statisticsEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  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.

External linksEdit