On St Patrick’s Day, Cuala and Na Piarsaigh will face off to be crowned the best club hurling team in Ireland. The Dublin and Limerick outfits have shared the last two titles between them, and the winners will enter the conversation of the best club teams we have ever seen.
That got us thinking here in Pundit Arena HQ, who are the best club team to have never won an All-Ireland? There are several candidates, and we’ve made a list of five who vie for the somewhat unwelcome honour.
Thurles Sarsfields (Tipperary)
The Sars are arguably the most decorated club in the game, winning the Tipperary Championship a record 36 times. However, they’ve failed to land the big one.
In recent years, they’ve boasted some top hurlers, including Padraic Maher, Ronan Maher, Lar Corbett, Pa Bourke, Michael Cahill and more. While they have won four county titles in a row, they’ve struggled to adapt to the heavier pitches in the Munster Championship.
2012 remains their sole provincial triumph, but they lost the subsequent All-Ireland semi-final to Kilcormac/Killoughey.
The Antrim hurlers have had their ups and downs in years gone by, but one constant has been the quality of club sides coming out of the county.
Loughiel Shamrocks are the only Ulster club to have won the All-Ireland , but Cushendall, Ballycastle and Dunloy have all come close. When pinpointing an individual team from Antrim for this conversation, perhaps Dunloy fit the bill. In the late 90s and early noughties, they won nine provincial titles in 16 years, reaching four All-Ireland finals.
The Cú Chulainns boasted some top class players, and can consider themselves unlucky never having gotten over the line.
Oulart the Ballagh (Wexford)
Ten county titles since 2004 saw Oulart take control of the Wexford Championship, but try as they might, they couldn’t quite make the grade in Leinster until 2015 when they beat Cuala. There was a real sense that they had finally come of age and were ready to go all the way at Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day.
However, the Pikemen went on to lose to eventual winners Na Piarsaigh after extra-time in the All-Ireland semi-final, and haven’t returned to that stage since.
When the Premier won the All-Ireland in 2001, Toomevara were in their pomp, winning 11 county titles in the space of 16 years.
Tommy Dunne and Co. won three Munster titles in that time, but could go no further. Buoyed by the Dunes and Tipp forward John O’Brien, Toomevara were always mentioned as contenders throughout those years.
Ballyboden St Enda’s (Dublin)
Not obvious candidates given that they did win a Leinster title, but ‘Boden’ are a hurling team that arguably failed to fulfill their potential in terms of results. Cuala’s recent success is a testament to the quality available in the Dublin Championship, especially considering that the Dalkey side have been given their sternest tests in the county. Indeed, ‘Boden beat Cuala in the 2017 group stages.
They claimed six county titles in seven years between 2007 and 2013, with intercounty stars like Conal Keaney, Malachy Travers, Gary Maguire and Paul Ryan. There was a sense that they have underachieved by not yet claiming a Leinster title with the side.
Have we missed any great teams? Let us know!