It’s happened before – most recently for Kilkenny and Tipperary in 2014 – the moment when an All-Ireland senior hurling championship final ends in a draw.
Back in 2014, Hawk-Eye was in full swing with a late Tipperary free from John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer into the Davin end sailing just wide. The game had been tied at 3-22 to 1-28 (31 points apiece), the umpire calling for Hawk-Eye to be sure of the wide with the clock already in the red and that was the last action of the game.
Kilkenny would see off Tipperary by three points at the second time of asking to claim their 35th All-Ireland senior hurling title, successfully defending it in 2015 against Galway, the last time the Cats brought the Liam MacCarthy cup back to UPMC Nowlan Park. Indeed, that drawn game in 2014 marked the third year in a row that the All-Ireland final would go to a replay; Kilkenny and Galway had to go at it twice in 2012 with Cork and Clare also needing a replay in 2013. In the years since we’ve yet to see an All-Ireland final replay, but that’s not to say it couldn’t happen this weekend.
Back then though, the All-Ireland final was played in September and we all knew the story – if it was a drawn game on the first Sunday, we’d be back again two weeks later.
So what happens this year?
Well, if Kilkenny and Limerick’s meeting this Sunday in Croke Park does end in a draw, there won’t be any extra time played. The winner-on-the-day rule is in place across the championship calendar right up to the All-Ireland semi-finals. So, if Kilkenny and Clare had played to a draw at the end of their All-Ireland semi-final, the game would have gone to two periods of 10 minutes for extra time, with a shoot-out a possibility.
As for the final, the winner-on-the-day rule no longer applies so if the game ends in a draw, we’ll be heading back to Croke Park on Saturday 5 August (the August bank holiday weekend). In the case of the All-Ireland senior football championship final between Dublin and Kerry on 30 July, Saturday 12 August has been reserved for a replay. It’s also worth noting that the Kilkenny club championships are also due to start over the August bank holiday weekend.
A replay would also mean putting Monday’s hurling homecoming and subsequent events at Langton’s on Sunday on hold. With fans locally torn between a point either way and last year’s game running quite close, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility.