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National Football League (Gaelic football)
National Football League (Gaelic football)

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.

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.

Mayo are the reigning league champions having defeated Kerry in the 2019 league final.

History


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 50's and 60's, 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 has 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 are the most successful team in the League, 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 are the team to have most often achieved the "double", by winning both the League and All-Ireland Senior Football Championship.

Finals listed by year


Winners


a. ^ New York received a bye to the final in 10 NFL seasons between 1949–50 and 1988–89.

The top provinces by number of wins are as follows:

See also


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