Donnelly ball set for swift croke park debut
Saturday night's season-opener in Croke Park will represent a landmark occasion for Gaelic football and long-standing servant Martin Donnelly as his recently-launched football debuts at HQ, writes Michael Verney.
Having only received official clearance last August, it is a quick television premiere for the Donnelly ball in a repeat of last year's All-Ireland final pitting Dublin against Kerry.
Donnelly, who has been involved in GAA sponsorship since 1992, believed there was a significant gap in the market, with O'Neill's currently the only other supplier, and is delighted with the positive reaction from players.
"Why only one ball? If you look at any other sport in the world they all tender for the ball and the ball has to be made up to the proper standard," he said.
"Now less than six months later, they're using it in Croke Park in front of a captive audience. It shows the fairness and democracy of the organisation, if you have a product as good as what's there, you get a chance.
"It's something that we have put a lot of research and work into. The reaction has been brilliant so far but granting the licence is one thing, you have to do the promotion yourself and the onus is now on us to push on."
He believes that counties, clubs and players will benefit in the long run from the development of the new ball, priced at €40, and increased market competition.
Donnelly has been a huge supporter of the Interprovincial Championships in recent years and feels a return to St Patrick's Day would benefit hugely.
"Players still want it and that's the big thing especially considering the burden on them these days.
"There's a soft spot for it and I feel it will survive," he said.