In this, the fourth year of the competition, the Bank of Ireland Celtic Challenge continues to go from strength to strength by providing 1,300 players with a programme of 138 matches, which will commence in May and conclude in June 2019.
For 2019, a total of 44 teams from all 32 counties will take part across eight groups. The teams include a mixture of County teams as well as sides that represent regions from within counties e.g. Galway McDonagh and East Cork.
Details of the competition, which is sponsored by Bank of Ireland were unveiled at Croke Park earlier today by Uachtarán CLG John Horan.
John Horan said: “The Bank of Ireland Celtic Challenge is a key avenue for the growth and promotion of Hurling nationwide. The competition has been hugely successful in providing players with a meaningful programme of games that helps them to develop their skills within a structure that encourages respect and learning. The success of the competition is evidenced by the fact that this year Wicklow will be entering two teams – Wicklow Blue and Wicklow Gold – to compete in the competition.”
Liam Sheedy, Munster Provincial Director, Bank of Ireland added: “At Bank of Ireland we are very committed to supporting today’s youth to be inspired to reach their full potential. This is our third year of sponsoring this really unique competition and I thrilled to see it grow once again this year. 2019 has been a superb year to date for hurling across all competitions and it certainly warrants the title of The Jewel in the Crown in GAA circles. I am very passionate about the growth of hurling in this country – if we want to deliver increased participation then it’s not just the traditional hurling strongholds we need to focus on but equally those counties who are working so hard to grow the wonderful game of Hurling. The Bank of Ireland Celtic Challenge is certainly playing its part in this regard which I am absolutely delighted with.”
All players will be provided with a bespoke Celtic Challenge jersey as a memento of the competition. The jerseys have been designed exclusively for each of the 44 teams and are sponsored by O’Neill’s House of Sport. Cormac Farrell from O’Neill’s House of Sport said: “O’Neill’s are delighted to be official kit partner to this year’s 2019 BOI Celtic Challenge. Our experience of this event is hugely positive in the manner hurling is promoted to the youth of Ireland. Playing in a National Hurling competition whets the appetite of the players and sets the standards for their future hurling careers. We look forward to a feast of quality hurling.”
After an initial round robin group phase of matches, teams will be graded on their performance and will then be assigned to one of six Divisions for the Quarter-Finals and Semi-Finals where again they will compete against teams of a similar level of ability.
The six Divisional Finals will be played on Saturday, June 29 th at Bord na Móna O’Connor Park in Tullamore. The cups have been dedicated to the memory of Michael Hogan (age 24), John William Scott (age 14), William Robinson (age 11), Jerome O’Leary (age 10), Michael Feery (aged 40) and Tom Hogan (aged 21) - six of the victims from among the 14 people shot and killed on Bloody Sunday at Croke Park on November 21 st , 1920. The trophies and medals have been kindly sponsored by the Past Hurlers’ Association.
The Bank of Ireland Celtic Challenge represents a new departure in Hurling with the inclusion of teams from all 32 Counties as well as unique respect initiatives including a ‘Pre-Match Talk’ by the Referee and the Best and Fairest Award’ that will see referees after every match choose one player from each team selected on the basis of their skill level as well as the respect they showed to the playing rules, match officials and their fellow players.
Players’ Feedback from 2018:
The development of the players – not just as players but as people – is central to this competition and a review of the 2018 Bank of Ireland Celtic Challenge was conducted with 295 Players. Players were asked to give their views on the benefits of the competition and the top five reasons provided were:
The full list of the 44 teams taking part in the Celtic Challenge 2019 is:
Kildare Lily White’s