THE 2010 All-Ireland Hurling U-21 Championship was launched at Croke Park yesterday where competition sponsors Bord Gáis Energy also unveiled a new team of ambassadors who will support this year’s campaign.
The ambassadors are 2009 Breaking Through Player of the Year Darach Honan (Clare), Tipperary stars Noel McGrath and Padraic Maher, Paul Murphy (Kilkenny), Noel Connors (Waterford), Liam Rushe (Dublin), Aidan Walsh (Cork), David Burke (Galway) and Conor Woods (Down). The ambassadors will be involved in a wide range of activities to support publicity, advertising, promotional and online plans.
After setting last year’s semi-final alight, Galway senior star Joe Canning will play a significant role again this year.
A former winner of the competition, Joe will be a new member of the judging panel for the Breaking Through Player of the Year Awards, along with Marty Morrissey from RTÉ, Micheál O Domhnaill of TG4 and Ger Cunningham, sports sponsorship manager at Bord Gáis Energy.
Canning will also be providing his views and tips on the championship on www.breakingthrough.ie, which will carry an exclusive blog from the hurling star, Joe Blogs, and feature an ongoing battle of wits between Canning and Cork hurling legend Ger Cunningham, also a winner of the U-21 championship. The two will give their predictions for matches throughout the season in Joe vs Ger.
Director general of the GAA, Paraic Duffy said, “Last year’s U-21 hurling championship was one that will live long in the memory not least because of Clare’s fantastic breakthrough.
“As we have to come to expect in recent seasons, this grade of hurling has produced some top-quality hurling, while at the same time providing U-21 players with a perfect stepping stone to the senior ranks.”
Ger Cunningham, a former All-Ireland medal winner with Cork said at the launch, “I know from experience, the U-21 championship is a hugely important part of a player’s progression to senior level”.
The championship begins with a bang next week when Cork take on Waterford in the Munster quarter-final on Wednesday, June 2.
The Leinster championship kicks off on Wednesday, June 9 when Kilkenny play Offaly and Laois take on Carlow.
Defending champions Clare will open their campaign on Wednesday, July 14 with a semi-final date against neighbours Limerick.
The Munster final is set for Wednesday, July 28, with the All-Ireland semi-finals on Saturday, August 21 and the All-Ireland final on the weekend of September 11/12.