A new GAA Festival was unveiled at Croke Park today (Wednesday, December 4th) by the Presidents of the GAA, Camogie Association and Ladies Gaelic Football Association.
Queen’s GAA Festival has been created to mark the fact that in 2014 Queen’s University Belfast is to become the first institution to host all four Sigerson, Ashbourne, Fitzgibbon and O’Connor Cup finals in the one year, and at the one venue.
The four competitions are the flagship events in the Higher Education sporting calendar and over 2,250 players, and thousands of supporters, will converge on Queen’s Upper Malone playing fields when the Festival throws in next year.
The Upper Malone site, formerly known to many as ‘The Dub’, was reopened earlier this year after a £13 million redevelopment.
Queen’s GAA Festival will run across consecutive weekends, beginning with Camogie’s Ashbourne Cup on 13 February 2014, and continuing with the Irish Daily Mail Sigerson Cup (20-23 Feb), the Irish Daily Mail Fitzgibbon Cup (27 Feb-2 Mar) and, following those, the O’Connor Cup from 20-23 March.
Alongside the action on the field, Queen’s GAA Festival will offer a packed programme of music and comedy nights, squad reunions, talks from well-known sports personalities, and advice on nutrition, mental health and wellbeing, as well as opportunities to try other sports.
Speaking ahead of the Festival announcement today, Queen’s University’s acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor James McElnay, said:
“Queen’s is delighted that its commitment to delivering world-class sporting facilities for its students has helped to bring four of the most high profile sporting events on the island of Ireland to the University and to Belfast.
“I congratulate our staff and students in having the ambition to organise the Queen’s GAA Festival, a cross-community celebration of heritage and sporting achievement, and look forward to welcoming the thousands of players and supporters to Belfast in 2014.”
The finals of the Irish Daily Mail Sigerson Cup Final, the Irish Daily Mail Fitzgibbon Cup Final and the O’Connor Cup will be covered live on TG4 and the finals will also be broadcast live online at www.tg4.tv
Speaking at the Festival unveiling, Aileen Lawlor, Uachtarán, An Cumann Camógaíochta, said: “I am delighted Queens University are launching their Festival of Gaelic games by announcing the hosting of the Ashbourne, Sigerson, Fitzgibbon and the O’Connor Cups in February 2014. These annual competitions involving the colleges are held in very high esteem and are much awaited for in the sporting calendar.
“The continued involvement in sport of club players while studying at third level colleges is vital to the growth and development of any player along their pathway in any given sport. I wish Queens University the very best of luck in their endeavours in 2014. I know they will be great hosts, in a great venue, showcasing our Gaelic Games with such fantastic facilities on hand in Belfast.”