Seems a long time now since that September day when Cork beat Down in the All Ireland Football Final. Of course the 2010 season is NOT yet over with the club semi finals and finals to come but when the National League campaign starts you know that Spring is round the corner !
The long wait is over and the 2011 Allianz Football Leagues are ready for take-off.
Between next Saturday night and Sunday, April 24, a total of 124 games will be played at venues across all 32 counties and in London, as title winners and promotion and relegation candidates will be decided.
This will be the 19th season that Allianz has sponsored the Football and Hurling Leagues, making it one of the longest sponsorships in Irish sport.
With the games – many of which will be covered ‘live’ by TG4 and Setanta – spread over Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons, it promises to be a very exciting campaign across all four Divisions.
Cork, who begin the new season as reigning Division 1 and GAA Football All-Ireland champions, travel to take on old rivals, Kerry in the first series of games but the honour of launching the 2011 campaign goes to the
eight teams who play this Saturday night as follows:
Division 1: Armagh v Dublin; Mayo v Down.
Division 2: Laois v Meath; Donegal v Sligo.
Seven counties have won the Allianz Football League Division 1 title in the past decade with Kerry leading the way with three wins, followed by Tyrone on two while Mayo, Armagh, Derry, Donegal and Cork have won one each.
Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Criostóir Ó Cuana welcomed the onset of competitive action and looked forward to the prospect of an exciting 2011 campaign.
He said: “The opening weekends of this year’s Allianz League campaign throw up some mouth-watering encounters involving teams that will have high hopes for 2011 and many of these games will set the tone for the season as a whole.
“As part of our efforts to further promote the Allianz Leagues we have re-branded the competition, have commissioned a new television advertisement and in addition to working with all of our counties who have been provided with specialist promotional toolkits, we will be organising a number of media events over the duration of the campaign.
“I would like to acknowledge the long standing and highly valued support of Allianz and I look forward to working with them between now and May as part of our efforts to showcase our leagues.”
Commenting Brendan Murphy, CEO Allianz Ireland, said:
“We are proud to be embarking on our 19th year as tournament sponsors, making it one of the longest running sponsorships in Irish sport. There has been a lot of change in sport, in business and in life in general over those 19 years but Allianz and the GAA have always managed to work their way through the changes successfully.
I look forward to another fantastic Allianz Leagues with all the top flight GAA action and drama that it brings.”
Next weekend’s football fixtures are as follows:
Division 1: Saturday: Armagh v Dublin; Mayo v Down; Sunday: Monaghan v
Galway; Kerry v Cork.
Division 2: Saturday: Laois v Meath; Donegal v Sligo; Sunday: Antrim v
Kildare; Derry v Tyrone.
Division 3: Sunday: Offaly v Cavan; Wexford v Waterford; Louth v Westmeath;
Tipperary v Limerick.
Division 4: Sunday: London v Kilkenny; Leitrim v Clare; Longford v
Roscommon; Carlow v Wicklow.
ALLIANZ LEAGUES – DATES TO REMEMBER
Next Saturday/Sunday: Start of Allianz Football League February 12/13: Start
of ALLIANZ HURLING LEAGUE April 10: Last round of ALLIANZ FOOTBALL LEAGUE
April 17: Last round of ALLIANZ HURLING LEAGUE Divisions 1 & 2; Finals 3A;
April 23: ALLIANZ FOOTBALL LEAGUE finals (Divisions 3 & 4) April 24: ALLIANZ
FOOTBALL LEAGUE finals (Divisions 1 & 2) May 1: ALLIANZ HURLING LEAGUE
finals (Divisions 1& 2)
Allianz Football League: What happened in 2010 Div 1: Winners: Cork;
Runners-up: Mayo; Relegated: Derry, Tyrone.
Div 2: Promoted: Armagh, Down; Relegated: Westmeath, Tipperary.
Div 3: Promoted: Sligo, Antrim; Relegated: Roscommon, Fermanagh.
Div 4: Promoted: Limerick, Waterford