Centra is the latest of the GAA Championship brands to launch their 2018 partnership and have done so with research that shows just how deep hurling is woven into our national identity.

This is Centra’s eighth year of supporting the All Ireland series, and the second using the theme of #WeAreHurling.

The launch took place away from Croke Park at the home of a former Chairman of Na Fianna on St Mobhi Road in Dublin. “A private house?” we asked Neal Cummins of Fleishman Hillard who were managing the launch. “Yes, that’s right. Honestly, you won’t miss it,” said he in return and he was right.

It would be some household of divided loyalty if there were fans of all the counties whose colours were on display yesterday but it was a nice touch illustrating just how deep the connection to the sport runs.

The Centra research was conducted among customers in their stores who have marked themselves as hurling supporters so if there is a slight bias in the findings that is only to be expected.

No surprise then that 95 percent believe the sport to be an integral part of our national identity, nor that 92 percent said they are proud to see hurls presented to local dignitaries on state visits.

Going a little deeper are the 42 percent who said they had dressed their home in county colours during a Championship run and the 40 percent who said they had or would take their hurls on holidays with them.

“I am truly delighted to see such a high percentage of people who believe hurling is part of our national identity, said Centra ambassador Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh.

“I have travelled the length and breadth of the country following hurling and I have seen how important GAA is to Irish communities.”

“It is a uniquely Irish sport that is ingrained in our heritage. Centra are doing their bit to remind us of this through their #WeAreHurling campaign and I am very happy to be part of that.”

The campaign will gather momentum with the launch of a new TV ad this weekend, highlighting some of the individuals and their stories that make up the rich tapestry of the sport at club and county.

With 87 percent of the survey believing their club to be a vital part of the community, there will be a strong focus in that area and you won’t get much closer than the Centra retailer Declan Cronin who will feature in the campaign this year having run the sideline for AIB All Ireland Club Champions Cuala, a team of which his son Colm was also an integral part.

The TV ad will catch a glimpse of the individual stories which will then be rolled out in longer form content through social media channels under the #WeAreHurling banner.

“Centra is at the heart of communities across Ireland and plays an important role in the promotion and development of hurling at a local level,” said Centra Managing Director Martin Kelleher at the launch.

“Our #WeAreHurling campaign showcases the multitude of roles that people play to contribute to the success of hurling. We will continue to champion these people because it is their passion that drives this sport, year-after-year.”

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Image Credit: Sam Barnes, Sportsfile