Leinster GAA have announced a three year extension of their partnership with Bord na Móna as sponsors of the Leinster GAA Series which incorporates the O’Byrne, Walsh and Kehoe Cups in January.
The news comes as the details of the 2017 Bord na Móna Leinster GAA Series were announced at an event in Croke Park today, December 8.
New Wexford hurling manager Davy Fitzgerald was joined by a galaxy of star players from across the province as the focus begins to switch to the resumption of inter-county activity in early January, with the Leinster club football final between St Vincent’s and Rhode this Sunday being the last big match of 2016.
The O’Byrne Cup senior football title was the only crown to evade Jim Gavin’s Dublin in 2016 with the Dubs being taken out by Longford in the semi-finals who later fell to a dominant Meath in the final.
The Walsh Cup hurling decider was also a keenly contested affair with Dublin out playing Wexford in a Croke Park decider.
The Kehoe Cup saw Kildare triumph in their final with Maynooth University.
Following a positive response from supporters it has been decided to maintain the new format for the O’Byrne Cup which will see County and College teams divided into groups and with mid-week matches taking place to reach the semi-finals.
Top flight College teams will also be involved in the Walsh and Kehoe Cups.
The football games will represent the first time that supporters see the newly introduced ‘Mark’ being used – while in football and hurling it has been decided to have no limit on the number of substitutions allowed.
Leinster GAA Chairman John Horan said: “We are delighted to extend our partnership with Bord na Móna for the next three years.
“They understand the importance of community and the work that we do to enable our clubs and members to be the best they can be.
“The O’Byrne Cup football trophy has been competed for since 1954 and the Tom Walsh Cup has existed since 1956 and Kehoe Cup since 1977. Between them they have played a crucial role in Leinster GAA as Accident Tournaments whereby the proceeds generated by attendances is used in a special fund that looks to benefit ordinary GAA people in Leinster who are in dire need of assistance.
“These are special competitions that have a crucial place in the calendar because in both codes they act as a vital dress rehearsal for the start of the national leagues and provide a warmly welcome outlet for supporters who have been starved of seeing their county play since the summer.
“I look forward to another outstanding January of activity to get GAA fans in the mood for the New Year and thank Bord na Móna for their commitment and support.”
Speaking on behalf of Bord na Móna, Offaly legend Pat Fitzgerald said: “We are delighted to be title sponsors of the Bord na Móna O’Byrne Cup, Bord na Móna Walsh Cup, and the Bord na Móna Kehoe Cup.
“This sponsorship began in 2012 and saw us become the first title sponsor in the competitions long history and continues our strong association with the GAA. The growth and success of our association in the last few years made it a natural decision to extend our relationship with Leinster GAA.
“Bord na Móna has a long-standing presence and involvement with the people of Leinster in every community and county through our employees and customers. We live in these communities, we work in these communities and we are deeply invested in creating the brightest possible future that we possibly can.”
Full fixtures on leinstergaa.ie – The opening games in the three cups are:
O’BYRNE CUP SF Rd Robin – Jan 8
Group 1: Dublin v DCU, Wexford v UCD.
Group 2: Kildare v Longford, Offaly v IT Carlow
Group 3: Meath v Wicklow, Laois v DIT
Group 4: Westmeath v Louth, Carlow v Maynooth Uni
WALSH CUP SH Rd Robin – Jan 8
Group 1: Galway v DIT, Laois v NUIG
Group 2: Kilkenny v DCU, Westmeath v Antrim
Group 3: Dublin v Carlow, Wexford v UCD
Group 4: Meath v Offaly, Kildare v IT Carlow
KEHOE CUP SH Rd Robin – Jan 15
Group 1: Louth v Maynooth
Group 2: Wicklow v St Pats, IT Tallaght v Trinity College