It’s a chance for players, officials and supporters alike to shake off the post-Christmas festivities and turn their focus towards the new season, where the competitions provide emerging talent to gain the limelight for either county or college sides, while those more established players aim to cement their places on their squad.
The Bord na Móna O’Byrne Cup commences on Sunday January 6th with an exciting new league structure which will see 11 counties and 5 college teams vie for honours in a four group competition, which culminates following 27 games with the famed O’Byrne Cup being presented following the decider on January 27th.
Both the Bord na Móna Walsh Cup and Kehoe Cup hurling competitions take a similar format to previous years, with the competitions beginning on January 20th.
The Bord na Móna Walsh Cup is a straight knockout competition with Antrim and Galway joining Leinster counties Kilkenny, Wexford, Offaly, Westmeath, Carlow, Laois and Dublin; and college sides U.C.D., D.I.T. and N.U.I.G.
Fourteen teams will take part in an expanded Bord na Móna Kehoe Cup competition, which sees a Bord na Móna Kehoe Shield competition for those teams knocked out in the first round.
Leinster counties Meath, Wicklow, Kildare and Louth are joined by their Ulster counterparts Armagh, Down and Derry and Roscommon from Connacht along with college sides St. Pats Drumcondra, D.C.U., Trinity College, Queens University and G.M.I.T.
All Leinster counties, apart from Kilkenny along with reigning Bord na Móna O’Byrne Cup and Sigerson Cup champions D.C.U., U.C.D., D.I.T., I.T. Carlow and Athlone I.T. will set out for Bord na Móna O’Byrne Cup football honours.
Longford, Meath, Louth and U.C.D. are paired in Group A; Carlow, Dublin, Wicklow and D.C.U. are in Group B. There is a Midlands flavour to Group C with Laois, Offaly and Westmeath paired with Athlone I.T., while college sides I.T. Carlow and D.I.T. are with Wexford and Kildare in Group D.
D.C.U. open their Bord na Móna O’Byrne Cup title defence away to Wicklow at Greystones, while Leinster champions Dublin face an away trip to Carlow.
Another initiative this year is the addition of a round of floodlit fixtures on Wednesday January 9th, where eight games will take place under lights around the province.
Dublin will face D.C.U. at Parnell Park, with Wicklow hosting Carlow in Group B; Group A will see floodlit clashes involving neighbours Meath and Louth in Pairc Tailteann, Navan and Longford will host U.C.D. in Killoe.
In Group C, Laois will host Westmeath in O’Moore Park, Portlaoise, while Offaly face Athlone I.T. in Gracefield.
Group D sees Wexford host Carlow and Kildare on home soil against D.I.T.
Leinster GAA Chairman Martin Skelly welcomed Bord na Móna’s continued sponsorship of the Leinster GAA Series, and is looking forward to a competitive start to 2013.
“I would like to thank Bord na Móna once again for their involvement with our sponsorship. It is a three-year deal and in the current financial climate to get people to come on board and invest in the G.A.A. is of great credit.
“One of the tentative agreements we had last year with Bord na Móna was that they might like to get involved with how the competition is run and the formulation of the Bord na Móna Leinster G.A.A. Series.
“This year at the Leinster G.A.A. Convention in Ballymascanlon in Louth some staff from Bord na Móna came and took part in the workshops. Arising from that the league structure for the Bord na Móna O’Byrne Cup was formulated and I would once again like to thank Bord na Móna for their input. I would also like to thank our delegates to the Leinster Council who were open enough to make this change happen.
“This year we will have games at the weekend and midweek before we get into the knock-out stages.
“There will be a full round of floodlit matches in the Bord na Móna O’Byrne Cup including games in Navan, Parnell Park and Portlaoise.
“The way forward for the GAA to relieve club fixture chaos which ensues at the end of the year and to tighten up county fixture programmes is midweek matches, but we need further floodlit county grounds in order for this to happen.
“I think the relaxation of the inter-county Winter training ban which has allowed players prepare for these competitions has helped also. Counties will have plenty of time to prepare the competitions this year and it should allow once again for some very entertaining fare in the Bord na Móna Leinster G.A.A. Series in January.”
Acknowledging the Leinster Council’s progressiveness in running with an entirely new format for the football competition, Bord na Móna’s Group Head of Marketing Gerry O’Hagan said that the company was again pleased to be associated with such a noble cause as the Leinster GAA’s Hardship Fund which is the beneficiary of the proceeds from these competitions.
“This is the second year of Bord na Móna’s association with the Bord na Móna Leinster GAA Series – the O’Byrne, Walsh and Kehoe Cup competitions,” he said.
“We look forward to another exciting year of competition. When we got involved with Leinster G.A.A. over 12 months ago, one of the things that certainly influenced us to get involved was the focus of developing the games over the next number of years.
“We are particularly pleased to see that a year further on the reformulation of the Bord na Móna O’Byrne Cup, which we see as a very, very welcome development in terms of where these games are going.
“Looking at the groups and some of the games that are coming up, particularly the midweek evening games I think they are all very positive developments for the competition.
“What also attracted us into the Bord na Móna Leinster G.A.A. Series sponsorship was the good cause that these games pour into, which is the Leinster Council Hardship Fund.
“We are delighted to be involved in this and we are always conscious of the problems that society has, and anything we can do in any small way to help we are delighted to get associated with things that can help.
“I would like everyone to remember the good cause that exists behind these games.”
This is the second year of Bord na Mona’s sponsorship of the Leinster GAA Series. Last year was the first time for the competitions to be sponsored, since the inception of the O’Byrne Cup in 1954.
These competitions were established to help provide funds for the Leinster GAA Benevolent fund, which helps players and other GAA members with financial assistance in times of need.
Sunday January 6th: Bord Na Mona O’Byrne Cup First Round Group A: Longford v Meath, Ballymahon, 2.00; Louth v UCD, Drogheda, 2.00. Bord Na Mona O’Byrne Cup First Round Group B: Carlow v Dublin, Carlow, 2.00; Wicklow v DCU, Greystones, 2.00. Bord Na Mona O’Byrne Cup First Round Group C: Offaly v Laois, Tullamore, 2.00; Westmeath v Athlone I.T., Páirc Chiarain Athlone, 2.00. Bord Na Mona O’Byrne Cup First Round Group D: Wexford v D.I.T., Bellefield Enniscorthy, 2.00; Kildare v I.T. Carlow, Newbridge, 2.00.
Bord na Móna Leinster Series 2012 (Dates subject to change)
Bord na Mona O’Byrne Cup
January 6: First Round: Group A: Longford v Meath, Ballymahon, 2.00; Louth v UCD, Drogheda, 2.00. Group B: Carlow v Dublin, Carlow, 2.00; Wicklow v DCU, Greystones, 2.00. Group C: Offaly v Laois, Tullamore, 2.00; Westmeath v Athlone I.T., Páirc Chiarain Athlone, 2.00. Group D: Wexford v D.I.T., Bellefield Enniscorthy, 2.00; Kildare v I.T. Carlow, Newbridge, 2.00.
January 9: Second Round: Group A: Meath v Louth, Navan, 7.30; Longford v UCD, Killoe, 7.30. Group B: Dublin v DCU, Parnell Park, 7.30; Wicklow v Carlow, Wicklow Venue, 7.30. Group C: Laois v Westmeath, Portlaoise, 7.30; Offaly v Athlone I.T., Gracefield, 7.30. Group D: Wexford v IT Carlow, Bellefield Enniscorthy, 7.30; Kildare v DIT, Kildare Venue TBC, 7.30.
January 13: Third Round: Group A: Meath v UCD, Navan, 2.00; Louth v Longford, Drogheda, 2.00. Group B: Dublin v Wicklow, Parnell Park, 2.00; Carlow v DCU, Carlow, 2.00. Group C: Westmeath v Offaly, Mullingar, 2.00; Laois v Athlone I.T., Portlaoise, 2.00. Group D: Kildare v Wexford, Newbridge, 2.00; IT Carlow v DIT, IT Carlow, 2.00.
January 20: Semi-finals:
January 27: Final
Bord na Mona Walsh Cup
January 20: First Round: Wexford v DIT, Wexford; Westmeath v NUI Galway, Mullingar; Laois v UCD, Portlaoise; Carlow v Antrim, Carlow.
January 27: Quarter-Finals: Wexford/DIT v Offaly, Wexford/Tullamore; Westmeath/NUI Galway v Kilkenny, Mullingar/Kilkenny; Laois/UCD v Dublin, Portlaoise/Parnell Park; Carlow/Antrim v Galway, Carlow/Belfast.
February 3rd: Semi-Finals: Wexford/DIT/Offaly v Westmeath/NUIG/Kilkenny, Home Venue Wexford/DIT/Offaly; Laois/UCD/Dublin v Carlow/Antrim/Galway, Home Venue Laois/UCD/Dublin.
February 10th: Final
Bord na Móna Walsh Shield
February 10: Semi-Finals: Loser Wexford/DIT v Loser Westmeath/NUIG; Loser Laois/UCD v Loser Carlow/Antrim.
February 17: Final
Bord na Móna Kehoe Cup
January 20: First Round: St Patrick’s Drumcondra v Armagh; Fingal v DCU; Wicklow v Down; Trinity College v Derry; Roscommon v GMIT; Louth v Queens University Belfast.
January 27: Quarter-Finals: St Pats/Armagh v Meath; Fingal/DCU v Wicklow/Down; TCD/Derry v Roscommon/GMIT; Louth/QUB v Kildare.
February 3: Semi-Finals: St Pats/Armagh/Meath v Fingal/DCU/Wicklow/Down; TCD/Derry/ Roscommon/GMIT v Louth/QUB/Kildare.
February 10: Final
Bord na Móna Kehoe Shield
February 10: Semi-Finals:
February 17: Final