Celtic Challenge A Successful Blueprint?

Last weekend the Celtic Challenge hurling competition for under 17 hurlers drew to a close with Finals Day at Netwatch Cullen Park and Garvaghey in Tyrone.

With interchange subs, regionalised teams to ensure competitive games, bonus point scoring, and a minimum of six competitive games, has the GAA devised a new competition structure to use in other competitions?

At the very minimum, as a new departure from the GAA’s traditional competition structures, does the format of the Celtic Challenge offer a blueprint for underage participation in the years ahead in both codes?

Players at all levels want meaningful competitive games and the Celtic Challenge is structured in such a way so that is achieved, and also it is designed to ensure that teams get a minimum of six games on protected scheduled dates. The result? 1400 players and 155 games, immeasurable enthusiasm and high quality hurling.

Targeting 16 & 17 Year old Hurlers

The Celtic Challenge  targets 16 and 17 year-old hurlers not sitting State Examinations this summer. 47 teams from all 32 counties played across eight groups organised on a geographical and developmental basis. The format features  county (21) and regional teams (26) within counties.  


Best and Fairest Awards

After every match the Referee and match officials select a player from each team to receive the 'Best & Fairest Award' on the basis that they displayed:

   •    a high level of skill and endeavour;

   •    respect towards match officials;

   •    respect towards fellow players;

   •    respect toward the playing rules. 

Finals Day

Five of the six divisional finals were played on Saturday, June 24th at Netwatch Cullen Park, Carlow, the sixth was played at Garvaghey in Tyrone. The Carlow based matches were streamed live on Youtube, and we have included the links to each match below. They are worth watching, the standard of hurling is exceptional.


Division One Final - Corn Michael Hogan

South Tipperary 2-11 Galway Maroon 0-16

Best & Fairest Award:

Enda Egan,  Galway Maroon

Eoghan Connolly, Tipperary South

Match Footage

Division Two Final - Corn John Scott

Antrim 2-17 North Cork 1-12

Best & Fairest Award

Seán Elliott, Antrim

Jamie Copps, North Cork

Match Footage

Division Three Final - Corn William Robinson

Down 3-11 - Dublin Plunkett 1-11

Best & Fairest Award:

Ronan Costello, Down

Cian McHugh, Dublin Plunkett

Match Footage

Division Four Final - Corn Jerome O'Leary

South East Limerick 3-18 - Carlow 2-16

Best & Fairest Award:

Kevin Curran, Carlow

Mikey Duggan, Limerick South/East

Match Footage

Division Five Final - Corn Michael Feery

Roscommon 2-15 - Armagh 0-13

Best & Fairest Award:

Stephen McKearney, Armagh

James Cunniffe, Roscommon

Match Footage

Division Six Final - Corn Tom Hogan

Tyrone 0-14 Fermanagh 1-10


Cups Commemorate Bloody Sunday Victims

The Celtics Challenge trophies were named after six of the victims from among the 14 people that were killed at Croke Park on Bloody Sunday on November 21st, 1920. The cups have been dedicated to the memory of 24 year old Michael Hogan, John William Scott who was aged 14; boys William Robinson aged 11 and Jerome O’Leary aged 10, as well as 40 year old Michael Feery and Tom Hogan who was 21 years old. The trophies and medals were sponsored by the Past Hurlers’ Association.


The O’Neills Celtic Challenge Jersey

All players received a unique bespoke Celtic Challenge jersey as a memento of the competition. The jerseys were designed exclusively for each of the 47 teams and are sponsored by O’Neill’s.

Interchange Subs

The Celtic Challenge used an interchange substitutes policy to ensure every player on a squad can be involved in a game.

Bonus Point Scoring

In the group stages a team that scored two or more goals were awarded a bonus point, and a defeated team that lost by five points or less also received a bonus point.