Etihad quash pull-out talk
ETIHAD Airways, one of the three big sponsors of the All-Ireland hurling championship, have quashed rumours that they might be pulling out, reiterating yesterday that their sponsorship will run to the end of this season.
The United Arab Emirates national airline came on board for an initial two-year contract four years ago and have confirmed that they have agreed terms with the GAA that will take them up to the end of this year's championship.
Their Dublin to Abu Dhabi flight is one of the airline's busiest routes and an Etihad spokesman said that their partnership with the GAA has been particularly successful.
Asked about the possibility of their deal continuing further, he said "our current contract take us to the end of this championship and naturally, we will be talking to the GAA after that."
Etihad's sponsorship has included hosting an inter-provincial final in Abu Dhabi and bringing out clubs -- most recently Clonlara of Clare -- to the UAE in conjunction with their 'Best Club Under The Sun' competition.
Back in 2008, when the GAA first went from one 'title sponsor' to a 'partnership' model, three companies -- Etihad, Guinness and RTE -- came on board to sponsor the hurling championship for a reported €1.1m a year each.
While Guinness and Etihad signed on for another two years, RTE didn't and were subsequently replaced by Centra.
The GAA recently acquired Eircom as one of their new football championship sponsors -- they already had Ulster Bank and Supervalu.
And yesterday they revealed a new sponsor -- Bus Eireann -- for their annual All-Ireland U-14 festivals, Feile Peile na nOg and Feile na nGael.
Bus Eireann replace long-time Feile sponsors Coca-Cola. This year's competitions take place in Cork (football, June 30 to July 2) and Galway ( hurling, June 24-26).
With all of their senior hurling sponsorships running out this summer, there is speculation that the GAA are considering a new hurling sponsorship format next year which may yet bundle the senior and minor championships together, particularly as they have no sponsorship for the minor championship this year.