GAA fans get chance to wear heart on sleeve
IT IS the discreet way of wearing the county colours -- new GAA jewellery allowing fans to show their subtle support without breaking any dress code.
Wearing a baggy jersey may be de rigueur on match days, but doing the same at work or in a fancy restaurant could earn you a citation from the fashion police.
But as the 2012 GAA season gets under way, diehard fans will be able to proudly support their counties anytime, anywhere using the 'Love Your County' range.
Football and hurling fans will be able to eat, drink, sleep, shower and even hit the sack with Sam Maguire and Liam McCarthy.
The iconic championship trophies are being replicated in miniature sterling silver pendants and charms that can be worn around the neck or as bracelets.
The collection also includes sterling silver, silver-plated and stainless steel charms, pendants and dog tags depicting official county colour jerseys, miniature footballs, hurleys and football boots.
There are also county-themed leather bracelets for children and teenagers and more subtle cufflinks and tie-clips embossed with the GAA logo for the corporate fan.
A "generous percentage" from the sale of each item will go directly to the respective counties.
Prices range from €25 for leather bracelets to between €30-€50 for individual charms, €50-€55 for cufflinks, €50-€100 for pendants and €95 for a two-piece charm bracelet.
The line is designed by Dublin-based jewellery manufacturer TJH -- the same people who produced the John Rocha jewellery collection.
It will be unveiled to more than 5,000 potential buyers at the Showcase creative trade fair taking place at the RDS this weekend, before being launched at jewellery and gift shops nationwide in April.
The line is also being marketed to the thousands of Irish expatriates living abroad, who may want to flaunt their county colours and support their hometown heroes while overseas.
They will be be able to order online at www.gaajewellery.com or www.loveyourcounty.com in the coming months.
According to GAA spokesman Alan Milton, there are now 350 GAA clubs scattered across the globe, from Dubai, Mongolia, China and Korea to Mexico, Sweden and the Cayman Islands.
"It's nice for people who want to declare their allegiance," he said. "It shines a light on our heritage."
Meanwhile, Brian McGee, spokesman for the Crafts Council of Ireland, which is one of the organisers of the Showcase exhibition, said he hoped Irish and international buyers would be impressed with the new line.
"There is a sense of national pride with the GAA," he said. "Irish businesses also have their eye on the export market and I certainly hope it will be a hit," he said.