Competition between the main banks is leading to a heating up of sponsorship activity in the GAA just as it has done in the energy sector already this year.
Bank of Ireland have been announced as the new title sponsor of the Celtic Challenge, a national Hurling Development tournament for 16 and 17 year olds that was launched last year.
This comes off the back of Bank of Ireland becoming involved with a number of high profile clubs, including St Vincents who made it to the semi finals of the AIB All Ireland Club Championships this year.
AIB are long term sponsors of that tournament and expanded two years ago into taking on one of the three main partner positions for the All Ireland Football Championship.
This year will see Bord Gais Energy come on board as sponsor of the All Ireland Hurling Championship while Electric Ireland remain on board as long term partners of the Minor Football and Hurling Championships.
Having competing brands sit in such close proximity is testament to the pulling power of sport and the appeal of an involvement with the GAA.
Maintaining the rights of each to exclusivity in certain areas is a fine balancing act, similar to that maintained in rugby between beer brands like Guinness and Heineken.
So long as it is done well, and with the competing brands aware of how far to push before provoking a backlash, it can serve to expand the market and deliver for new entrants while at the same time as staying true to promises made to those that were there before.
The Bank of Ireland Celtic Challenge is targeted at 16 and 17 year-old hurlers who are not sitting State Examinations this summer. It will commence in May and conclude in June 2017. A total of 47 teams from all 32 counties will take part across eight groups – that are determined on a geographical and developmental basis – and feature county as well as regional teams.
There will be 1,400 players involved in a programme of 155 matches that take place over eight weeks starting on May 3rd.
“The Celtic Challenge got off to a great start last year and with this success in mind it is great to welcome Bank of Ireland on board as title sponsor for the next three years,” said GAA President Aogán O Fearghaill.
“We feel Bank of Ireland’s support will help build on last year’s success to push this competition and the promotion of hurling to another level.”
“As Ireland’s leading bank for students we are delighted and proud to sponsor the Bank of Ireland Celtic Challenge competition,” added Bank of Ireland Munster Director and former Tipperary Hurling Manager Liam Sheedy.
“Participation in the competition will give 1,400 young players the opportunity to upskill and further develop their game in what is the largest All County Hurling competition. We will be striving to ensure the Bank of Ireland Celtic Challenge continues to go from strength to strength in the next three years and we have wonderful GAA ambassadors in our workforce that will add significant value to the Partnership throughout the term.”
After an initial round robin group phase of matches, teams will be graded on their performance and will then be assigned to one of six divisions for the preliminaries and the play-offs where again they will compete against teams of a similar level of ability.
The cups for the six divisional finals have been named after victims from among the 14 people shot and killed on Bloody Sunday at Croke Park on November 21st, 1920. The cups have been dedicated to the memory of Michael Hogan (age 24), John William Scott (age 14), William Robinson (age 11), Jerome O’Leary (age 10), Michael Feery (aged 40) and Tom Hogan (aged 21).
The Bank of Ireland Celtic Challenge will provide players with a programme of pre-scheduled and meaningful games. In addition to this, the competition features a number of initiatives that are unique to the Bank of Ireland Celtic Challenge.
A feature of the competition will be for referees and match officials to meet with the teams prior to the game.
There will also be a ‘Best and Fairest Award’ that will see referees after every match choose one player from each team selected on the basis of their skill level as well as the respect they showed to the playing rules, match officials and their fellow players.
An interchange policy will be used instead of permanent substitutes which ensures every player on a squad can be involved in a game.
An innovative scoring system will be in operation for the group stages that will award a bonus point for a team that scores two or more goals, while also awarding a losing bonus point for a defeated team that loses by a margin of five points or less.
Bank of Ireland will be among the many brands joining us on April 26th for Partners ’17.
Join Leinster Rugby star Rob Kearney and Olympian Thomas Barr discussing the world of sponsorship as it relates to them as athletes.
Hear from AIG, Nissan, Allianz and Electric Ireland on why they look to build partnerships with sport away from the brightest lights and get great insight from Livewire on what sponsorship means on Wednesday, April 26th.