Hurling, Hockey, Niall Quinn and Skorts

Allianz National Hurling League is launched

A repeat of last year’s All Ireland Hurling Final between Kilkenny and Tipperary will be among the highlights of the opening round of fixtures in the 2012 Allianz Hurling League, which gets underway this weekend.

Defending Allianz Division 1 champions Dublin travel to play Galway in the first round on Sunday. Dublin won last year’s League for the first time  since 1939, beating Kilkenny in the final.

This is the 20th year in which Allianz are involved as sponsors of the hurling and football Leagues.  They are supporting the sponsorship with a wide ranging social media campaign this season, including a prediction competition where players can win a prize of €5,000 for their club.

Commenting at the launch of the 2012 Allianz Leagues campaign, Brendan Murphy, CEO Allianz said: “Earlier this year we were delighted to announce that our sponsorship of Allianz Leagues has been extended for another three seasons up to and including 2015 bringing the sponsorship into its 23rd year.

Women boxers to have kit choice

Women boxers, competing in the Olympics for the first time this summer will be given an option over whether to wear skirts as had been suggested in some quarters as a promotional vehicle for the sport, or the more popular shorts.

The President of the Amateur International Boxing Association, C K Wu is is reported to have said that many boxers were undecided over what to wear and that a ballot of members of the association was due to be held to confirm the decision not to impose one form of kit over another.

This could yet provide an opportunity for O’Neills, manufacturers of the combination Skorts popular in Camogie and Hockey, to offer a third option.

Katie Taylor, pictured at last week’s Ireland Boxing training camp is Ireland’s main hope of Olympic Gold this summer.

Netball England sign partnership with sports bra maker

The England netball squad have signed a partnership deal with leading sports bra brand Freya Active.  In addition to being an official supplier, the Freya Active name will appear on the England National Squad kit and feature in national team events, all of which are played live on Sky Sports.

Freya Active’s partnership will also involve supporting netball at grass roots level, by getting behind the Back To Netball scheme. This programme This programme is aimed at women over the age of sixteen. “A lot of girls have played netball at a younger age and subsequently left it behind,” said Joanna Adam, head of Marketing at England Netball.  “Back To Netball encourages those who are no longer playing to take another look at the sport and get involved once again.”  There are schemes running across Britain.

Ann Marie Manley, Head of Marketing at Freya Active, said: “Netball is energetic, edgy and feminine, so it is a great match for Freya Active.  The sport does not always get the recognition it deserves, so we are really looking forward to working with them in order to raise their profile as well as our own.”

Netball is estimated to be played by one million girls and women in Britain and is supported by Fiat and Asics as its main sponsors.  In this country, Netball Ireland runs teams at U17, U19, U21 and Open level.  There are seven clubs based in Dublin, many of which are associated to schools.

Irish Cricketers bounce back with Kenyan win

Ireland bounced back in emphatic fashion to record a thoroughly convincing 117 run win against Kenya in their second meeting in the World Cricket League Championship.

Trent Johnson, Kevin O’Brien and John Mooney all played their part in the win, giving another boost to Johnston, Mooney and O’Brien who signed up as an official sponsor of Cricket Ireland last week.

The win means Ireland sit top of the table with five wins from six, two points clear of second placed Scotland, who have two games in hand.

The team now plays a three match Twenty20 series against Kenya starting on Wednesday, in preparation for the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers in UAE next month.

Rocky Road to Poland

Today FM is inviting listeners to the Ray Darcy show to contribute lyrics to ‘The Rocky Road to Poland’ which is set to become the anthem for fans at this summer’s European Football Championship Finals.

Damien Dempsey, Niall Breslin, Danny O’Neill and the Dubliners are set to record a modified version of the rocky Road to Dublin.  Whether it will match the popularity of ‘Put ‘em under pressure’ from the Jack Charlton era will be down to the Irish performance on the pitch.

James Maclean was called up to the squad yesterday for the friendly next Wednesday against the Czech Republic at the Aviva Stadium.

Quinn steps down at Sunderland

Niall Quinn has ended his formal association with Sunderland by resigning from the international development role he had undertaken since  stepping down as Chairman last October.

The 45-year-old former Dublin minor hurler, as well as Sunderland, Manchester City, Arsenal and Republic of Ireland striker, said he intends to concentrate on spending time with his family in Ireland as well as developing new business interests away from football.

Quinn is a legend at the club where he was instrumental in bringing the Drumaville consortium on board in 2006 to provide financial stability.  Roy Keane followed as manager and brought them back to the Barclays Premier League where the club currently lies in the top half.  He is also credited with the appointment of Martin O’Neill as manager this season.

Quinn’s status is such on Wearside that a petition among fans has already begun to rname the South Stand at the Stadium of Light in his honour.

Major deal for Scottish Hockey

Scottish Hockey has announced a new three year partnership with Aberdeen Asset Management.  The investment will be used to fund a programme of qualified professional high performance coaches to work with selected domestic clubs. The aim is to increase the quality and standard of players, leading to stronger National League competitions in Scotland.

Lee Cousins, President of Scottish Hockey, said: ‘We’re delighted that Aberdeen Asset Management has entered into this new partnership with Scottish Hockey. We have been seeking a long-term sponsor with whom we can share joint objectives in the growth and development of the sport in Scotland.’

‘As a result of this investment in talent development from the grassroots, we hope to see future progress for Scottish club performances in elite level international competitions, including the European Hockey League,” said Lee Cousins, President of Scottish Hockey.

Funds from Aberdeen’s investment will also be put towards the Scottish Hockey  ‘Women in Coaching’ programme, which has the objective of expanding the hockey workforce in Scotland by increasing the number of female coaches who are qualified at Level 2 and Level 3 to work in player development.

Ticket sales for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament being hosted by the Irish Hockey Association at Belfield in a little over two weeks time are ahead of expectations and a number of full houses are expected to be announced shortly.

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