AIB Reviving #TheToughest Rivalry

It was a game for the ages, back in 1998, and now AIB are rekindling memories, with a very modern twist, of one of the most famous GAA Club matches ever to have been played.

The location was Thurles, the occasion an AIB All Ireland Club Championship semi-final between Castlehaven of Cork and Erin’s Isle of Dublin.

The depth of feeling around club Championships was expressed in advance of that game 20 years ago by Erin’s Isle’s Captain on the day and now the Assistant Secretary General at the Government Department responsible for Sport, Ken Spratt.

“This is more than an All-Ireland semi-final,” he told newspapers before the game. “It’s a mission to do something which would bring us into heaven because that is what it would mean to us to play in the All-Ireland final in Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day.”

His team were five points down with two minutes to play that fateful day, and having had talisman Charlie Redmond sent off. A goal brought them back in with a chance then with only seconds remaining a long ball towards the Castlehaven goal looked to be dribbling wide only to be picked up by an Erin’s Isle forward, scooped back and shot towards the net by Niall Crossan.

The ball hit one post, then the other before shooting out. The umpire raised his green flag to indicate a goal, Erin’s Isle were the winners but to this day the debate still rages.

It was the kind of game that could have made a movie and now, in modern sports marketing fashion, it will.

AIB have brought renowned Premier League Manager Harry Redknapp to West Cork, and Gianluca Vialli to Finglas to partake in the creation of a mini-series, The Toughest Rivalry.

The show will be broadcast on AIB Social channels and YouTube over the summer, looking to replicate the success of last year’s ‘Chris and Kammy, the Road to Croker’.

Vialli and Redknapp, who have themselves been on opposing sides on 5 occasions, take charge of Erin’s Isle and Castlehaven in a re-match of that infamous 1998 All-Ireland Club Semi Final match that left both teams with unfinished business.

Vialli and Redknapp will be exposed to all aspects of a GAA Club on and off the field of play. They will input into training and preparation whilst being exposed to the important role the GAA Club plays in community life and the intense competition and rivalry generated every time a GAA jersey is worn.

The Toughest Rivalry allows two very different sports worlds to respectfully collide, providing an opportunity for each to learn from one another and grow in knowledge and skill.

Exposing some of professional soccer’s biggest talents to GAA sets the stage for a compelling journey into the drive behind what makes successful athletes, the determination that builds powerful teams and the passion and pride created by unwavering community support.

“I am very excited to embark on this journey with AIB,” said Vialli.

“I have learned a lot during my 30 years involved in professional football as a player and manager, but I am delighted to get the opportunity to come to Ireland and learn more about GAA. I am interested in seeing what it is that makes this sport so special.”

“I am thrilled to dive into the world of GAA,” added Redknapp.

“I took a trip out to London GAA training last week before arriving in Castlehaven to see what it is all about. Having been involved in professional football for my whole life, I am really looking forward to working with AIB to get a real understanding of this sport and the central role it plays in Irish life not to mention getting one over on Vialli in the re-match.”

“The GAA is one of the most unique and cherished aspects of Irish life,” said Mark Doyle, Head of Group Brands at AIB.

“The dedication and skill demonstrated by players continues generation after generation. We are looking forward to immersing Gianluca Vialli and Harry Redknapp into GAA, to give them the chance to share their knowledge and experience with Erin’s Isle and Castlehaven and see whether in the end, they feel they may have learnt something from what we believe is #TheToughest sport of them all.”

Filming for the series has already begun and details will be revealed in the coming weeks about broadcast schedules and the date on which the re-match will take place.

Sport for Business and Mason Alexander Sport are hosting a special breakfast event in Dublin on Tuesday, may 1st looking at the transfer of skills from sport to the workplace.

Join Former World Boxing Champion Andy Lee, Former World Ranked Tennis star James Cluskey and Ireland’s most capped international sports star Nikki Symmons for breakfast and inspiration.  More Details here.

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Image Credit: Stephen McCarthy and Sam Barnes Sportsfile, GAANow

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