Most of the players who will be giving it their all in the AIB GAA Club Championships were not even born when this sponsorship first came into being.
Yesterday the Bank launched the 29th year of its involvement in the premier grassroots competition across Hurling, Football and the seventh year of its backing for the Camogie Championship.
Ladies football remains outside the fold but if the Fixture Review Group within the GAA puts forward a change in the calendar so that the three other competitions are run in a calendar year with finals in December, like the Ladies football, then that might open a door to having all four under the AIB Banner.
This season’s finals will already take place earlier, in January at Croke Park.
This year’s provincial competitions are coming into clear focus and a group of those who have emerged from the County Championships were out and about yesterday to put the club game right to the fore.
Three-time winner with Corofin and former Galway footballer, Gary Sice, two-time winner with Cuala and Dublin Hurler; Sean Moran, Dessie Hutchinson, from Ballygunner hurler, Oisin O’Neill from Crossmaglen Rangers and Armagh were joined by former Kilkenny Camogie Manager Ann Downey and Niamh O’Callaghan from Sarsfields in Cork for a round of photography and interviews across the national mainstream and online media.
Each of them talks in various long-form interviews in print, online and on radio and podcast about issues ranging from the new Galway football manager to the injury to potential Footballer of the Year Con O’Callaghan in last Sunday’s Dublin Hurling Final.
AIB came on board in 2015 as sponsor of the All Ireland Senior Inter-County Football Championship but even that draws strong roots back to the origins of their involvement with and investment in the GAA at club level.
A significant number of the matches will be televised live by TG4 and RTÉ. RTÉ revealed this week that it had drawn a viewing audience of 129,000 for East Kerry against Dingle in the Kerry Senior Football Championship last weekend.
That wasn’t quite at the level of the Rugby World Cup clash between Ireland and the All Blacks but still a very solid showing for an early evening programme.
It will be interesting to follow the promotion at local, national and social level that AIB gives to this year’s competitions. AIB’s Rob O’Leary will be one of the speakers at tomorrow’s Sport for Business Irish Sport on Social Media event in partnership with Twitter and Olytico at the social media giant’s Dublin Headquarters.
“AIB is thrilled to be backing the Junior, Intermediate and Senior Club Championships for the 29th year, as well as the Camogie Club Championships for the 7th year,” said Denis O’Callaghan, Head of AIB Retail Banking.
“The Club Championships are the epitome of what GAA is all about – competition, spirit and community. GAA clubs are at the heart of towns across Ireland and we at AIB are proud to champion the players that give it their all on and off the pitch to represent their home clubs in one of the toughest club tournaments there is.”
“It is the Club that defines us and makes us who we are,” added GAA President John Horan.
“To achieve success, at any level, with your Club is something that creates memories to last a lifetime and it is the pursuit of that success – in honour of the club and the people that we represent – that means so much to our Communities.”
“Whether they are players or supporters, the AIB Club Championship is a place where something special can happen. I wish all involved the very best on this epic journey at senior, intermediate and junior levels.”
“I would also like to acknowledge AIB for their long-standing support across both Club and County. We are delighted with the partnership and look forward to the years to come of working together to strengthen the GAA even further.”
“AIB have been wonderful supporters of our Club Championships over the last six years, shining a spotlight on our wonderful clubs which is where the journey for all of our players begins,” said Camogie Association President Kathleen Woods.
Games to watch out for
Waterford’s Ballygunner will face Clare’s Sixmilebridge in the Munster SHC Quarter-Final on Sunday, 3rd November while Dublin’s Cuala will go head-to-head with St Mullins of Carlow in the Leinster SHC Quarter-Final.
In the SFC, Armagh’s Crossmaglen Rangers will play Clontibret O’Neill’s of Monaghan in the Ulster Quarter-Final.
Reigning All-Ireland champions Corofin will have to do it all again in the Galway County Final following their dramatic last gasp draw with Tuam Stars.
After an impressive performance against title-holders Inniscarra, Sarsfields claimed the Cork Senior Camogie crown. They will now face Tipperary’s Drum & Inch in the Munster Championship semi-final.
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Image Credit: Sam Barnes, Sportsfile