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A guide to the new changes in the Hurling Championship

There are some big changes coming this year to the format of the All Ireland Senior Hurling Championship. If you are feeling a little confused, we have everything you need to know right here!

This year will mark Littlewoods Ireland’s second year of sponsoring the All Ireland Senior  Hurling Championship; we are so excited!

A jam-packed summer of sport lies ahead, and we will be keeping you up to date with all the action. From scorelines to Styles of Play, interviews and features, keep an eye our blog where we will be bringing it all to you.


In comparison to last year though, there are a few changes heading our way. So welcome to the guide of new changes coming to the Hurling Championship in 2018!


Firstly, these changes are a little bit hard to wrap your head around, so if you are feeling a little lost, don’t worry! We are all in the same boat.

We tried to break the new Championship format down into the easiest way possible to explain.

Round Robin

First of all, the beginning of the Munster and Leinster Hurling Championship will be played in a round-robin format. This means that each county will play four matches; two of them will be played at home, two of them will be played away.

The only exception here is Waterford, who will have to play all their games away, as Walsh Park is still being refurbished.

5 teams will play in Leinster:

5 teams will also play in Munster:

Final Stages

The top two teams in both groups automatically qualify themselves for their Provincial finals. In a new change this year, the winners of the Leinster Final and Munster Final now progress immediately into the All Ireland Semi-Finals.

The team that lose in the Provincial finals will progress to the All Ireland Quarter Finals.

Those teams that have finished third in the round robin stage, will play in a preliminary quarter final. Here, they will face the winners and the runners-up of the Joe McDonagh Cup – bare with us, there is more information about that soon!

Other changes include the fact that the Leinster and Munster Hurling Final are now going to be played on the same day. This year, the date is set for July 1st 2018.

With the provincial winners automatically going through to the Semi-Finals which are set to be played on the 28th and 29th of July, both provincial winners will now have a 4-week gap before the All Ireland Semi Final.

So much to take in!

Also, another change that is coming into play this year is the date of the All Ireland Final. This year is set that it is to be played on the 19th of August, a little earlier than traditionally played.

 Joe McDonagh Cup

This year also brings about the new introduction of the Joe McDonagh Cup, which will be played for the first time in 2018. It will also use the round robin structure and like League games, a system of promotion and relegation will take place in the Joe McDonagh Cup.

The teams competing are :

If the winners are a team from Leinster, they are automatically promoted to compete with the Leinster Championship next year. If the winners are from Munster, they must win a playoff match between the bottom-placed team in the Munster Championship to gain promotion.

The winners of the Joe McDonagh Cup will take on the 3rd placed team of the Leinster Championship at the Preliminary Quarter Final stages.

The runners-up of the Joe McDonagh Cup will play the 3rd place team of the Munster Championship, also at the Preliminary Quarter Final stages.

The winners of these matches progress to the Quarter Finals, where they will meet the teams that lost out in the Provincial Finals.

What does that all mean?

So this effectively means that two teams competing in a second-tier competition, get the chance to play in an All Ireland Quarter Final, opening the door for them to progress to the Semi Final and then possibly the Final of the Championship.

Of course, that all depends on their performance, but the chance is still there.

Whichever team places at the bottom, they will be relegated to the Christy Ring Cup. To maintain that five teams play against each other within the Joe McDonagh Cup, the team that finishes second last from bottom must play against the winners of the Christy Ring Cup.

Likewise, the winners of this match will play in the Joe McDonagh Cup next year, whereas the losing team will also be relegated to the Christy Ring Cup for 2019.

It is important to point out that the GAA are trying this new format on a trial basis for three years.

Does that make a little more sense?


Littlewoods Ireland are proud sponsors of the All Ireland Senior Hurling Championship. Keep yourself up to date with all the #StyleOfPlay action right here

Ellen McConville

Typically found on the sidelines or in Croke Park, Ellen is the Sports Content Editor for Littlewoods Ireland and your go-to gal for all things GAA. A big lover of all things Christy Moore, fashion and some wine and cheese as well.

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