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.