Cuala GAA Club in Dalkey and their neighbours US Biotechnology firm Amgen have agreed on the first ever GAA club sponsorship to include education and employment incentives.

Amgen’s support of Cuala will last for 3 years and will include an annual education bursary and mentoring for the bursary recipient, a guaranteed place on a world-renowned eight-month paid internship programme as well as funding the preparation of all the club’s adult football and camogie teams.

This includes the clubs five adult men’s football teams, three adult women’s football teams and three Camogie teams. The Men’s Hurling team which won back to back AIB All Ireland Club Championships in 2017 and 2018 is sponsored by mobile phone company Huawei.

That’s a pretty impressive and multinational pair of sponsors but it is one of the biggest clubs in the country and located in a place which attracts leaders from the business world.

Yesterday’s launch of the new Amgen partnership was attended by GAA President, John Horan, Amgen Vice President of Regional Manufacturing, Alan Harmon, Amgen Director of HR, Olive Casey and Cuala players and officials.

These included Dublin senior footballers, Michael Fitzsimons, Con O’Callaghan, Conor Mullaly and Peadar O’Coifigh Byrne, as well as Jennifer Dunne from the Dublin Senior Ladies Football team, and Sinead Wylde, Hannah O’Dea, Roisin O’Grady and Sinead Murphy, members of the All-Ireland winning junior camogie winning team.

“It was important to us to include both the men’s and women’s teams as part of the partnership.”

Des Cahill, a former Chairman of the Club and still a selector on the Senior Football team was also present and happy to introduce the players and the speakers.

“This is a truly magnificent announcement which will help these young men and women continue to play the sport they love, as well as give them a wonderful professional opportunity with one of the largest employers in south Dublin,” said Horan.

“The inclusion of the educational benefits is a wonderful model that hopefully can be copied in other sponsorship deals going forward.”

Allen Harmon, VP of Amgen Regional Manufacturing and site head at Amgen Dun Laoghaire, conceded that Gaelic Games were not a familiar site back in Thousandoaks, California where the club is headquartered but that it was the community spirit in the club that had made the connection so attractive.

“In Amgen, we believe in making a difference in the lives of our patients, staff and communities. From investments in education to inspire future generations of scientists to recruiting the best people, to supporting communities where we live and work.”

“We have a strong focus on wellbeing and health so the sporting excellence and the other areas of club wellbeing were a very natural fit.”

“We are right in the middle of the club with pitches on either side of our facility in Dun Laoghaire,” added Olive Casey. “There was a shared sense of community wellbeing between us and we were very happy to work with the club on developing a new model of partnership.”

“It was important to us to include both the men’s and women’s teams as part of the partnership. Encouraging more women into sport and into STEM education that could lead to employment is very important to us.”

“It is breaking new ground as we have not done anything similar before.”

“There is a full bursary to cover the education of one of the players and there will be supports available throughout for them. The place on the internship is an important element as well, as this is highly prized.”

“This is a very special day for our club,” said Cuala Chairman Damien McKeown and we are delighted to welcome Amgen into the Cuala family.”

“Like all GAA clubs, we strive to help our members excel both on and off the pitch, and this partnership gives the young men and women of Cuala a wonderful opportunity. We look forward to a successful partnership with Amgen.”

Ulster Bank, Energia, Microsoft and Sherry Fitzgerald are among the other major names to sponsor teams and groups at local level within the club, reaching out to its 2,500 members and well over 100 teams.

Read More: Follow our Series on Sponsorship at GAA County Level, in partnership with AIB

Image Credit: Harry Murphy, Sportsfile