As the National Football League begins on January 31 and the National Hurling League on February 14, Seán Creedon gives us some interesting facts…
n The National Football and Hurling Leagues began in 1926 and Dublin qualified for both finals in the inaugural year. The Dubs were beaten 3-7 to 1-5 by Cork in the hurling final before a crowd of 14,000 the Athletic Grounds on May 14, and they went down 2-1 to 1-0 to Wexford in the football final at Barretts Park, New Ross on September 19, 1926.
n Seventeen different counties have won the National Football League. Kerry, who won their first final in 1928, lead the winners chart with 19 wins. Dublin, the reigning champions and Mayo are in joint second place with 11 wins each. The trophy for the National Football League winners is the New Ireland Cup.
n Tipperary lead the way in the Hurling League with 19 wins. Reigning champions Kilkenny are in second place with 17 wins, while Cork has 14 wins to their credit. Only ten counties have won the Hurling League and the last county to get their name on the Croke Cup was Offaly in 1991.
n Not since Kerry in 1931-32 has any county managed to win the National Football League and Sam Maguire Cup double two years in-a-row. Dublin went close last year, but Donegal’s ended their hopes of a double at the All-Ireland semi-final stage.
n Fifteen counties will have new football managers when the Leagues get under way. The new managers are: Frank Fitzsimons (Antrim), Kieran McGeeney (Armagh), Turlough O’Brien (Carlow), Rory Gallagher (Donegal), Jim McCorry (Down), Kevin Walsh (Galway), Shane Ward (Leitrim), Noel Conneely and Pat Holmes (Mayo), Pat Flanagan (Offaly), Colin Kelly (Louth), Tom Carew (Sligo), Tom McGlinchey (Waterford), Tom Cribbin (Westmeath), David Power (Wexford) and Jonny Magee (Wicklow).