Nicky Rackard Cup

The Nicky Rackard Cup (often referred to as the Rackard Cup) is the fourth-highest senior inter-county championship overall in hurling. Each year, the champion team in the Nicky Rackard Cup is promoted to the Christy Ring Cup, and the lowest finishing team enters a play-off with possible relegation to the Lory Meagher Cup.

Nicky Rackard Cup
Country Ireland (7 teams)  England (1 team)
Number of teams8
Level on pyramid4
Promotion toChristy Ring Cup
Relegation toLory Meagher Cup
Current champions Sligo
Most championshipsLondon
TV partnersTG4 (Final only)
WebsiteOfficial GAA site
2019 Nicky Rackard Cup

The Nicky Rackard Cup, which was introduced for the 2005 season, is a recent initiative in providing a meaningful championship for third tier teams deemed "too weak" for any higher grades.

The winners of the championship receive the Nicky Rackard Cup, named after former Wexford hurler Nicky Rackard regarded as one of the greatest hurlers of all time.

In the 2019 season, Sligo were the Nicky Rackard Cup champions.

History and formatEdit

Inauguration of the competitionEdit

In 2003 the Hurling Development Committee (HDC) was charged with restructuring the entire hurling championship. The committee was composed of chairman Pat Dunny (Kildare), Liam Griffin (Wexford), P. J. O'Grady (Limerick), Ger Loughnane (Clare), Cyril Farrell (Galway), Jimmy O'Reilly (Down), Willie Ring (Cork), Pat Daly (GAA Games Development Officer) and Nicky English (Tipperary). Over the course of three months they held discussions with managers, players and officials, while also taking a submission from the Gaelic Players Association. The basic tenet of the proposals was to structure the hurling championship into three tiers in accordance with 2004 National Hurling League status.

The top tier was confined to 12 teams, while the next twenty teams would contest the second and third tiers which were to be known respectively as the Christy Ring Cup and Nicky Rackard Cup. There would also be promotion-relegation play-offs between the three championship tiers. The HDC also suggested that these games would be played as curtain raisers to All-Ireland quarter-finals and semi-finals.[1]

The proposal were accepted at the 2005 GAA Congress. The Christy Ring Cup and the Nicky Rackard Cup competitions were launched at Croke Park on 8 December 2004.


The twelve participating teams were divided into three groups of four and played in a round-robin format. Each team was guaranteed at least three games each. The three group winners qualified for the knock-out semi-finals of the competition. The runners-up in groups 3B and 3C contested a play-off with the winner playing the runner up in group 3A in a lone quarter-final. The winner of that match joined the three group winners in the semi-finals.


The twelve participating teams were divided into four groups of three and played in a round-robin format, thus limiting each team to just two games each. The eventual group winners and runners-up qualified for the knock-out quarter-finals of the competition.


In 2009 a double elimination format was introduced, thus guaranteeing each team at least two games before being eliminated from the competition.

  • The eight teams play four Round 1 matches.
    • The winners in Round 1 advance to Round 2A.
    • The losers in Round 1 go into Round 2B.
  • There are two Round 2A matches.
    • The winners in Round 2A advance to the semi-finals.
    • The losers in Round 2A go into the quarter-finals.
  • There are two Round 2B matches.
    • The winners in Round 2B advance to the quarter-finals.
    • The losers in Round 2B go into the relegation playoff.
      • The losers of the relegation playoff are relegated to the Lory Meagher Cup for the following year.
  • There are two quarter-final matches between the Round 2A losers and Round 2B winners.
    • The winners of the quarter-finals advance to the semi-finals.
    • The losers of the quarter-finals are eliminated.
  • There are two semi-final matches between the Round 2A winners and the quarter-final winners.
    • The winners of the semi-finals advance to the final.
    • The losers of the semi-finals are eliminated.
  • The winners of the final win the Nicky Rackard Cup and are promoted to the Christy Ring Cup for the following year.


Beginning in 2018, the Nicky Rackard Cup changed format, with initial ties played in group stages, which in 2018 consisted of one of four teams and one of three. Previously it was a double elimination tournament. The top two teams from both groups advance to the cup semi-finals. The bottom team from each group will progress to a relegation final.

The winner of the Nicky Rackard Cup will be promoted to the Christy Ring Cup, For 2018 only, 2 teams will be relegated from the 2018 Christy Ring Cup to the 2019 Nicky Rackard Cup to bring the number of teams in the 2019 edition to an even 8, allowing for two groups of 4.

The loser of the relegation final will be relegated to the Lory Meagher Cup, to be replaced by the winner of the previous years competition.[2]

Past winnersEdit

Year Date Winner Score Runner-up Score Venue
August 21 London 5-8 (23) Louth 1-05 (8) Croke Park, Dublin
August 12 Derry 5-15 (30) Donegal 1-11 (14) Croke Park, Dublin
August 12 Roscommon 1-12 (15) Armagh 0-13 (13) Croke Park, Dublin
August 3 Sligo 3-19 (28) Louth 3-10 (19) Croke Park, Dublin
July 11 Meath 2-18 (24) London 1-15 (18) Croke Park, Dublin
July 3 Armagh 3-15 (24) London 3-14 (23) Croke Park, Dublin
June 4 London 2-20 (26) Louth 0-11 (11) Croke Park, Dublin
June 9 Armagh[3] 3-20 (29) Louth 1-15 (18) Croke Park, Dublin
June 8 Donegal[4] 3-20 (29) Roscommon 3-16 (25) Croke Park, Dublin
June 7 Tyrone[5] 1-17 (20) Fingal 1-16 (19) Croke Park, Dublin
June 6 Roscommon[6] 2-12 (18) Armagh 1-14 (17) Croke Park, Dublin
June 4 Mayo 2-16 (22) Armagh 1-15 (18) Croke Park, Dublin
June 10 Derry 3-23 (32) Armagh 2-15 (21) Croke Park, Dublin
June 10 Donegal 2-19 (25) Warwickshire 0-18 (18) Croke Park, Dublin
June 22 Sligo 2-14 (20) Armagh 2-13 (19) Croke Park, Dublin

Roll of HonourEdit

County Wins Years won
London 2 2005, 2011
Derry 2 2006, 2017
Roscommon 2 2007, 2015
Armagh 2 2010, 2012
Donegal 2 2013, 2018
Sligo 2 2008, 2019
Meath 1 2009
Tyrone 1 2014
Mayo 1 2016


Top scorersEdit


Season Top scorer Team Score Total
2016 Damien Casey   Tyrone 2-39 45


Season Top scorer Team Score Total
2005 Kevin McMullan   London 2-1 7
Dave Bourke   London 1-4 7
2006 Ruairí Convery   Derry 2-7 13
2007 Shane Sweeney   Roscommon 0-6 6
2008 Keith Raymond   Sligo 1-8 11
2009 Neil Hackett   Meath 0-6 6
Martin Finn   London 0-6 6
2010 Paul Breen   Armagh 2-4 10
2011 Martin Finn   London 2-8 14
2012 Shane Fennell   Louth 0-9 9
2013 Gerry Fallon   Roscommon 2-9 15
2014 John Matthew Sheridan   Fingal 0-11 11
2015 Ryan Gaffney   Armagh 0-8 8
2016 Kenny Feeney   Mayo 1-9 12


  1. ^ Keys, Colm (10 December 2003). "Hurling evangelists have radical tiers in their eyes". Irish Independent. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ "Nicky Rackard final: Orchard blooms against Louth". Hogan Stand. 9 June 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
  4. ^ "Rackard glory for 14-man Donegal". RTÉ Sport. 8 June 2013. Retrieved 8 June 2013.
  5. ^ "Nicky Rackard Cup: Tyrone edge Fingal". Hogan Stand. 7 June 2014. Retrieved 11 June 2014.
  6. ^ "Kelly the Nicky Rackard hero for Roscommon". Irish Times. 7 June 2015. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  7. ^ "Nicky Rackard Cup". Commercial Enterprises Ltd. Archived from the original on March 11, 2013. Retrieved March 9, 2013.