Sunday 4 December 2016

Dubs turn down better deals to stay with O'Neills

Published 17/02/2016 | 02:30

Dublin County Board has decided to stick with their O'Neill’s jersey deal (SPORTSFILE)
Dublin County Board has decided to stick with their O'Neill’s jersey deal (SPORTSFILE)

O'Neills will remain the official gear supplier to Dublin GAA for the next three years after the County Board Management Committee stepped back from what would have been a significant shift in direction.

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The sportswear industry was watching with interest as Dublin weighed up three prospective partnerships, one of which could have really opened the market if it was cleared.

But in the end Dublin stayed loyal to O'Neills, with Dublin chairman Sean Shanley insisting the new deal, which runs to the end of 2018, wasn't about finance.

"If it was only about finance we would have changed," said Shanley.

"There was a loyalty factor there too," he continued. "O'Neills are the only manufacturers with a base in Dublin and they were there for the county when things weren't going well.

Contract

"We had delayed signing a new contract for long enough because of other possibilities so it was time to make a decision. We'd be conscious of giving business, where possible, to Irish manufacturers," he added.

Shanley admitted one of the other propositions might have caused a "licensing problem".

The Irish Independent understands that one of the possibilities Dublin were looking at was a split between suppliers, using a licensed Irish manufacturer for their official gear but contracting a well-known overseas brand for the manufacture of commercial gear.

Industry sources felt that this split could have revolutionised the business of gear supply to the GAA market. But doing this may well have contravened rule and would probably not have gotten the green light.

Rule 1.17 of the GAA's Official Guide is clear in its definition that all jerseys, shorts, socks, tracksuits and kitbags worn and/or used for official matches and on official 'duty' such as television or video interviews and photographs must be of Irish manufacture. This is also a requirement for replica playing gear sold on the commercial market.

O'Neills still have the vast majority of the inter-county market despite competition from others such as Azzurri, who are involved with Waterford where they are based, and Kukri who supply Sligo.

Kukri came close to becoming Kildare's gear suppliers over two years ago but, like Dublin, the Lilywhites stayed loyal to O'Neills at the time despite an offer that would reputedly have yielded almost €250,000 more over three years.

Azzurri have also previously had the contract for Donegal and Laois.

Kerry wore adidas shirts in 1981 and 1998, while the 'Three Stripes' affair that saw the Cork football team wear adidas shirts for the 1976 Munster football final led to suspensions for some players.

With the biggest following, the biggest demand is naturally for Dublin jerseys but it's hard to determine the official sales figures each year.

Design

Some estimates put it loosely at between 35,000 and 40,000 when averaged out with years where there is no new design on the market.

The arrival of a football produced by well-known businessman and GAA benefactor Martin Donnelly has shaken up that market.

The MD ball, produced by MD sports and myclubshop.ie, has already been used in this year's league for games involving Kildare, Galway and Westmeath.

Dublin are not the only county concluding new sponsorship partners. In a new departure, Galway GAA have signed up Red Bull as their official drinks supplier.

Outside Dublin, who have three-year deals currently running with Britvic and Bavaria, such partnerships are rare in the GAA.

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