Silver jubilee awards
A SPECIAL awards scheme has been launched to mark the silver jubilee of the All Ireland club championships. Two teams, one in hurling and another in football, will be selected from the players who lined out for any of the winning club sides in the past 25 years.
The scheme is sponsored by AIB, who have sponsored the championships since their inception.
What are now recognised as the All Ireland championships were originally contested between clubs representing their county, rather than by sides selected from throughout the county.
An All Ireland club championship was partly revived on a challenge basis in the 1950s, when teams like St Vincent's from Dublin and Tuam Stars from Galway met in popular matches.
The AIB involvement started in 1971 and became a highly successful competition with East Kerry (football) and Roscrea (hurling) winning the inaugural competitions.
In all, 33 clubs have won football and hurling titles. St Finbarr's from Cork is the only club to have won both football and hurling titles. They won hurling titles in 1975 and 1978 and football awards in 1980, 1981 and 1987.
Nemo Rangers from Cork head the list of football winners with six titles, while Blackrock, also from Cork, share top billing with Ballyhale Shamrocks from Kilkenny in hurling with three titles each.
The president of the GAA, Jack Boothman, has welcomed the development. "The AIB have been very generous to the GAA down the years and we welcome their further commitment. The competitions have achieved a national status that few could have foreseen a quarter of a century ago. The pride and passion in the loyalty to the parish is a very important part of the GAA, and these competitions epitomise this," he said.
The selectors will be drawn, it is believed, from sports journalists and others who have watched most if not all of the deciding matches in the past 25 years.
The awards will be presented at the AIB Bankcentre, Ballsbridge, on Wednesday, March 13th.