Why does 'three-in-a-row' seem less valued?
Published 01/09/2016 | 02:30
Membership of the All-Ireland treble winners club may be fairly exclusive but, in a sign of the times, it has gone largely unrecognised that Kilkenny will be attempting to enter it for the third time on Sunday.
Only eight teams have completed the treble in championship history, with three of those over 100 years ago, when the scene wasn't nearly as competitive as it is nowadays.
Kilkenny's dominance of the All-Ireland championship - they will be seeking their 12th title since the turn of the Millennium on Sunday - has shattered so many records that even the possibility of a three-in-a-row for the second time in nine seasons isn't generating anything like the same excitement in the county as it did in 2008.
That's because Kilkenny went on to complete the four-in-row in 2009, something that had been achieved only once before in championship history when Cork reigned supreme in 1941-'44, before their five-timer bid ended in the 1945 Munster semi-final, when they lost to Tipperary.
Now, Tipperary would love to wreck Kilkenny's latest bid to reach a special landmark, just as they did in 2010 when they stopped their neighbours making history by winning the title for a fifth successive season. Tipp's win came in the most dramatic circumstances after Kilkenny lost Henry Shefflin in the first half and Lar Corbett went on to hit a hat-trick in an eight-point win.
Kilkenny have won four doubles (2002-'03, 2006-'07, 2011-'12, 2014-'15) over the last 15 seasons, but only managed to extend it to a treble in 2008, although that may change on Sunday. Cork ended their treble bid in 2004 (final) and 2013 (quarter-final).
The difficulty in winning three in a row was underlined by the long gap between Cork's success in 1976-'77-'78 and Kilkenny's triumph in 2006-'07-'08.
Kilkenny (1982-'83 and 1992-'93), Galway (1987-'88) and Cork (2004-'05) all recorded doubles in the intervening period but failed to complete the treble.
Cork's treble in the 1970s was the first since the Leesiders' similar success in 1952-'53-'54, following immediately on Tipperary's successes in 1949-'50-'51.
Cork also won the treble in 1941-'43, prior to completing the four-timer a year later.
The other treble winners were Cork (1892-'94), Tipperary (1898-1900) and Kilkenny (1911-'13).