The 2011 TG4 Ladies Football Championships were launched on Tuesaday at Croke Park and this year, 34 counties will compete across the three grades, with 17 matches shown live on TG4 and all streamed live across the world on www.TG4.tv.
In one of Ireland longest standing sports sponsorship agreements the TG4 Ladies Football Championship moves into its eleventh year. Over a decade after the first TG4 ball was thrown in at Croke Park , the 2011 TG4 Ladies Football Championship is already looking like it might throw up a few surprises.
Although the Senior Championship has no overseas competitor, last years reshuffle of the pecking order suggests a wide open competition, with more than a few teams believing that they have what it takes to get their hands on the Brendan Martin Cup.
Going on the result so far in 2011 one would be forgiven for thinking that a return to normal order may be in the offing. The Division One League Final saw a tight contest between Laois and Cork, with the strength of the Cork bench providing them with the edge to push forward in the last ten minutes, that said, Laois manager Joe Higgins, will have learnt some valuable lessons that day.
What has 2011 brought so far for the two 2010 All Ireland Senior Finalists? In terms of results, Tyrone had a poor league, finishing in 6th place in Division One. Dublin on the other hand won the Division Two league title but things have taken a turn for the worst since then. Meath have since beaten the Jackies in the first round of the Leinster Championship and as a result must make their way through the qualifying rounds.
Two other Ulster sides hoping to make an impact in 2011 are Monaghan and Donegal. Monaghan, under a new and experienced management team would have had their eyes on a league title and most definitely will be expecting big things from themselves this summer. Fresh and enthusiastic after their Intermediate Championship win last year, the young and vibrant Donegal team will be one to watch over the next few months.
In the other grades, the TG4 Intermediate Championship could make for very interesting viewing as there are a number of teams that have made no secret of their ambitions for 2011.
2010 finalists Waterford will no doubt be looking to atone for last years loss to Donegal in Croke Park , but their form so far this year suggests that there may be others who will be closer to the mark. Cavan had a very positive league, reaching the semi-final of Division Two and beating Dublin in the round stages on the way there.
There are quite a few teams however that have been patient over the last few years but may have what it takes to ruffle a few feathers. London, back in the TG4 Intermediate Championship for the first time since their 2008 Junior win have absolutely nothing to lose and are definitely ones to watch.
Limerick, off the back of their TG4 Junior Championship win in 2010, are going for a second Championship win in as many years. Another county courting interest is Longford and while an appearance in Croke Park may be a step too far, many will be interested in the progress of Longford as Gerry McGill, Dublin ’s 2010 manager has taken on the job of revitalising their fortunes.
The TG4 Junior Championship welcomes the second overseas competitor in the form of New York . The New Yorkers will be an unknown force in 2011 as they have not entered the TG4 Championship since 2001. Perhaps the more likely candidates for Junior honours are Louth and Wicklow who have been aiming for a Croke Park win for the last number of years.
At Croke Park today to launch the 2011 TG4 Senior All Ireland Championship and to make the draw for Round 1 of the Senior Championship Qualifiers were Michael Ring, TD, Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport, Uachtarán Cumann Peil Gael na mBan Pat Quill, and Ard Stiúrthóir TG4 Pól Ó Gallchóir.
Michael Ring, TD, Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport, commented, “Irish women’s sport has never been stronger and in recent years the achievements of our female sports stars have contributed enormously to the overall success of Irish sport.
“It is vital that women and girls participate in sport and are given every opportunity to do so, both from a lifestyle and enjoyment perspective. Cumann Peil Gael na mBan are among those leading the way in providing sporting opportunities for young women throughout Ireland and abroad.”
Uachtarán Cumann Peil Gael na mBan, Pat Quill, commented, “Once again TG4 are raising the bar in support of our games. Not only will we have more live matches than ever before but we will now also be able to spread the Ladies Football gospel all over the world on the TG4 Player on their site. The support from Pól, from Rónán and form all in TG4 over the past eleven years can not be underestimated and it is great to see them pushing the boat out again on our behalf.
“Finally, I wish all the players, the managers, the referees, the supporters and all those involved the very best over the coming months. It promises to be another action packed Summer full of all the best that Ladies Football has to offer.”
Pól Ó Gallchóir, Ard Stiúrthóir, TG4, said, “As we enter a second decade of partnership with Cumann Peil Gael na mBan, TG4 continues to be very proud of its ongoing sponsorship of the All-Ireland Senior, Intermediate and Junior Championships in this spectacular and attractive native Irish sport. All of us look forward to 2011 with confidence, hope and expectation.
This year TG4 will provide live coverage of 17 Championship matches from late July to the All-Ireland Finals in Croke Park on the 25th of September. This comprehensive coverage forms a key part of our overall coverage of major Ladies Gaelic Football fixtures throughout the 2011 season. It is important to note too that all of these matches can be viewed live, all over the world via the TG4 Player www.tg4.tv. “
The draw for the Senior Championship Round 1 Qualifiers was carried out at Croke Park by Pat Quill and Pól Ó Gallchóir.
Two of the Senior Championship Round 1 Qualifiers will be broadcast live on TG4 on Saturday, 23rd July while the other two Round 1 fixtures will be played over the August Bank Holiday weekend, on Monday 1st August.
It was also announced in Croke Park today that for the first time ever there will be a Player’s Player of the Year Award. This award will be voted on by the players for the players and will add another interesting twist to the TG4/O’Neills All Star Banquet in November.
The Senior, Intermediate and Junior Championship finals will take place in Croke Park on Sunday 25th September and all three games will be televised live on TG4.
Round 1 – Senior Qualifier Draw
Down v Donegal
Sligo v Armagh
Kildare v Dublin
Tipperary v Clare
Sportsnewsireland.com will have live score updates on all GAA Championship matches over the summer.