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2012 Tournament

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Photos from the official launch of the International Festival

International Tournament Launch Photos 2012

Launch of the 2012 International Hurling Festival

July 13 and 14 next will see over one thousand players from Ireland and overseas descend on Thurles for a two day International Festival of Hurling.

In association with the GAA, Thurles Sarsfields GAA Club, Shannon Development and a host of regional partnerships and bodies, the two day weekend event will serve up a feast of hurling activity with clubs and teams competing for a range of cups and silverware culminating in the Munster GAA Senior Hurling Final on July 15 (venue tbc).

Speaking at the official launch of the event, Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael, Liam Ó Néill said, “The International Hurling Festival of events scheduled for June 13/14 will really add to what is always an exciting weekend for hurling enthusiasts, the occasion of the Munster Senior Hurling Final.

"It is hugely encouraging to see the number of clubs from our overseas network involved in the hurling festivities and I have no doubt that the organising committee, host club, Thurles Sarsfields and all the players and officials involved will derive massive satisfaction from an initiative which has the potential to occupy a place in our calendar on an annual basis.

"The range of other diverse activities organised further compliment the hurling action and a special word of thanks is also due to the entire support network behind the organisation of the weekend".

Also speaking at the event, Alan Kelly, Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport said: “I am delighted to see this festival growing again this year and want to congratulate Thurles Sarsfields and their committee on the initiative they had to set it up. To have an international hurling tournament as well as European competitions from clubs all over the world really showcases the far reaching capacity of hurling.

"The festival will also showcase 'Hurl Ball' and 'Camán Abú' which shows how hurling is diversifying and encouraging more and more people to participate. It will be a fantastic event and I hope to see more than a thousand extra people coming to Thurles that weekend. I was happy to help the committee receive funding earlier on this year and believe this will be a ground breaking year for the festival given that Thurles is the 2012 European Town of Sport”.

Brian Keating, Shannon Development Regional Manager for Tipperary and Offaly said: “Over the past few years Shannon Development and the Shannon Region Sports and Conference Bureau have focused on working with partners to attract sustainable legacy sports tourism events into the Shannon Region – whether these are national, European, or World Championship events. This is why we are so pleased to have two new high calibre events to add to our sports calendar – the Thurles Sarsfields International Hurling Festival and the European Hurling and Camogie Championships. Rest assured we will be working with our partners in Thurles to maximise the economic and promotional potential which these new sporting events offer us in our bid to attract additional tourists and sports fans to the area.”

John Enright, chairman of the organising committee said, “The festival is an effort by the Thurles Sarsfield club to aid the development of hurling as an international game while at the same time stimulating the local economy by attracting teams and visitors to the area. Hurling is unique to Ireland and has a huge largely un-tapped potential to boost tourism to our country in these difficult financial times”.

Events taking place include the Association’s social and recreational game, Camán Abú which will be showcased competitively at the Ursuline Convent Thurles on Saturday, July 14. Any club or social team can participate. For full details on entering, visit justplay.gaa.ie.

The European Board will also play the final round of their European Hurling and Camogie Championships in Thurles on Saturday, July 14. Teams from Switzerland, Sweden, Luxembourg, Netherlands, France, Belgium and Spain amongst others will compete over the course of the day to become the 2012 European Champions.

For a full list of events, please see below. For more information visit http://www.thurlessarsfields.gaa.ie and www.justplay.gaa.ie.

Thurles Sarsfields International Hurling Festival, July 13th/14th

The President of the G.A.A., Liam O Neill, launched the Thurles Sarsfields International Hurling Festival at Croke Park on Monday, May 21st.

Over one thousand players from the U.S., England, Northern Ireland, Europe and the Republic of Ireland, will take part in the two day event in Thurles on Munster hurling final week-end, July 13th and 14th.

Competing for the Tom Semple Cup (presented to Sarsfields Club by the family of the late Tom Semple, distinguished hurler, coach, and administrator, after whom Semple Stadium is named)  will be – Kilburn Gaels of London, last year’s winners; Robert Emmets (London), Keady (Armagh), O Donovan Rossa (Antrim), Na Magha (Derry), Kilmoyley (Kerry), Kilbrin (Cork), Toureen (Mayo), Manorhamilton (Leitrim), Naomh Moninne (Louth), Dunboyne (Meath) and Carnew Emmets (Wicklow).

Teams eliminated after the round-robin section of the Semple Cup will take part in the Jackie Carew Cup tournament. The trophy was presented to the club by the late Jackie Carew, a former club official.

Thurles is EuropeanTown of Sport for 2012. To mark the occasion, the O Neill’s European hurling and camogie championship finals will be staged in conjunction with the festival. Teams of ex pats from Belgium, Luxembourg, The Hague, Zurich, Paris, Holland, Amsterdam, and Budapest will be joined by The Wild Geese, a selection drawn from U.S. marines based in England, in the championships finals.

A novel innovation at the festival will be a Caman Abu hurling tournament featuring celebrity selections. Caman Abu was launched at congress last year to cater specifically for social and recreational players, male and female, with the emphasis on participation and fun.

Another first this year is a Hurl Ball tournament. Hurl ball is played in handball alleys with players using their hurleys in a new game largely based on handball rules. It is growing in popularity among current and former players.

Road Bowling, traditionally associated with Cork and Armagh, will be demonstrated in Thurles for the first time in conjunction with the festival.

On the  evening  of July 13th, Thurles Sarsfields will play O Donovan Rossa and this will be followed by the official opening at Sarsfields Social Centre and a concert by Tipperary Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann musicians.

John Enright, chairman of the committee organising the festival, said the purpose of the festival is to promote hurling at international level and to encourage sports tourism in Tipperary and Thurles.

“The festival is an effort by our club to aid the development of hurling as an international game while at the same time stimulating the local economy by attracting teams and visitors to the area.  Hurling is unique to Ireland and  is on a par with bull-fighting in Spain or baseball in America. It  has a huge largely un-tapped potential to boost tourism to our country in these difficult financial times”, he said.

He added that the club is very grateful to Shannon Development and  the  GAA at local and national level, and local businesses, for their support and co-operation in mounting the event.

Ambassadors Award for Sarsfields Festival Initiative

Thurles Sarsfields contribution to the local economy through its staging of the Thurles Sarsfields International Festival of Hurling  in the town on Munster hurling final week-end, has been recognised with an award under the Shannon Development Conference and Sports Ambassador programme.

The club was one of fifty participants in the programme  in the Shannon region whose combined efforts have generated more than 35m in tourism revenue in counties Tipperary, Limerick, Clare and Offaly.

Sarsfields were singled out for the award, according to Shannon Development, for “ its contribution to sports tourism in delivering the Thurles Sarsfields International Hurling Festival in 2011 and 2012 and for working with Shannon Development and the Shannon Region Conference and Sports Bureau to attract the European hurling and camogie finals to Thurles this year.

Thurles is the European Town of Sport for 2012, and the festival will also include Caman Abu, a tournament involving celebrity teams who will play “recreational hurling”, a new concept in the GAA. Hurl Ball, (handball with hurleys) is another innovation this year when road bowling, featuring an inter-povincial competition in the town, will be a first in Tipperary. A concert by Tipperary Comhaltas musicians will be held at Sarsfields Social Centre on the opening night of the festival.

The Ambassadors Programme was devised to increase the Shannon region’s share of the lucrative international sports and business tourism market, and, according to Tony Brazil, Chairman of the Shannon Region Conference and Sports Bureau,  events held here last year and planned for this year, would have gone elsewhere were it not for the supports put in place under the programme.

Dr Vincent Cunnane, Chief Executive Shannon Development, said sports and  tourism in the  region benefits a range of businesses from the accommodation sector, transport services, pubs, restaurants, through to visitor attractions, sports facilities, and the retail trade. He complimented all involved in showcasing the region through the programme.

Mr Michael Noonan, Minister for Finance, who attended the function, described the programme as “innovative” and congratulated the award winners on the work they were doing to promote their communities and businesses.

Sarsfields award was accepted on behalf of the club by John Enright, Chairman of the Festival Committee and Margaret O Dwyer, secretary. John welcomed the  award and said it reflected  recognition of the diversity of the various elements of this year’s event on July 13th/14th.

“We believe we have made significant progress in helping establish Thurles  as a sports tourism centre and that this will greatly benefit the local economy in these difficult times. We hope the people of the town will get behind us in this venture by making the visitors welcome and ensuring that their short stay with us will be  memorable for them and encourage them to return”, he added.

Local tourism is expected to benefit from the attendance of approximately 1,000 visitors to the Cathedral Town on Munster Hurling final week-end for the Thurles Sarsfields International Festival of Hurling, which this year has been extensively broadened to include five separate but associated elements.

Inaugurated last year by the club, the event was an outstanding success drawing visitors from London, Northern Ireland and from counties such as Louth, Kildare, and Meath, with the novel attraction also of a team of U.S. marines, based in England. Kilburn Gaels of London became the first winners of the Tom Semple  Cup which was presented by the late hurling great’s daughter, Ann, at a post-tournament banquet at Sarsfields Social Centre.

Eight teams participated last year; this time there will be twelve – Kilmoyley(Kerry), Kilbrin(Cork), Toureen(Mayo), Manorhamilton(Leitrim), Na Magha(Derry), O Donovan Rossa (Antrim), Naomh Monin(Louth), Dunboyne(Meath), Carnew Emmets(Wicklow), Robert Emmetts (Londaon), Keady(Armagh), and Kilburn Gaels(London).

Operating under the umbrella of the festival, but being organised independently, will be the European hurling and camogie championship finals. In the hurling finals there will be teams from Belgium, Luxembourg, The Hague, Zurich, Paris, Holland, Amsterdam, Budapest and  they are being joined by the Lakenheath (England) Americn marines.

The camogie finals will be constested by teams from Paris, Holland, Luxembourg, and Belgium. Already most of the hotel accommodation in the Thurles-Templemore-Dundrum area has been booked out.

A further innovation this year will be  the first staging of Caman Abu in Thurles, a variation of the traditional game of  hurling  which puts the emphasis on social and recreational players. This Croke-Park initiative has as its philosophy the playing of hurling in a fun and enjoyable manner. Teams are made up of men and women over sixteen years of age, with equal representation of both sexes on each team. Twenty teams are expected to take part, many of them with celebrity captains or managers, a strategy which has proven very successful elsewhere.

Hurlball is a growing attrtaction for hurlers and a tournament featuring some of the top exponents in the county is being organised. Preliminary rounds will be played at the handball alleys in Thurles, Holycross, Horse and Jockey and Nenagh, with the final at the Semple Stadium alley in conjunction with the Semple Cup final.

Road Bowling is mostly identified with counties Cork and Armagh but this year it is hoped to stage an exhibition of this traditional Irish sport on roads in the vicinity of the town, also in conjunction with the festival.

Altogether, the events are set to bring one thousand visitors to the town on what is the most important week-end in the GAA calendar in Munster. Chairman of the Sarsfields sub committee in charge of the festival, John Enright, says that his committee have been very busy putting this programme together.

”We have been very fortunate to have had the help of the expertise of Shannon Development, Croke Park and the county board in getting things off the ground. Our ambition is that this festival will promote Thurles as a sports tourism venue and that the local economy will benefit accordingly. Last year’s festival went brilliantly and all who came here were thrilled and are coming back. We want our visitors to enjoy the Thurles Munster final experience, and we are confident that the local people will get fully behind the venture”, he added.

John, who is assisted at the helm, by Liam O Donnochu(Vice-chairman), and Margaret O Dwyer(secretary), said that the festival was Sarsfields contribution to highlighting Thurles as the European Town of Sport in 2012. Other events, such as a concert by Comhaltas musicians, are also in the pipeline.