Excitement is building for the 2012 TG4 All-Ireland Ladies’ Football Championships which were launched in Croke Park today. It was also announced that TG4 have extended their sponsorships of the championship until 2015.
The provincial action has been underway for a number of weeks now with the Ulster and Leinster finals scheduled to take place on Saturday but live coverage on TG4 will begin on the August bank holiday weekend. The station will screen the All-Ireland minor final and the senior championship qualifier between Kildare and Laois.
They will be the first of 15 live ladies’ football matches shown on TG4 during the season, culminating with the broadcast of the senior, intermediate and junior finals from Croke Park on 30 September. The finals will be a momentous occasion for the Irish language broadcaster as it will be the first programme shown in high definition on the channel.
“It is a mark of the importance we place on Peil Gael na mBan that TG4 will inaugurate this innovation in our All-Ireland Finals coverage from Croke Park on 30 September. HD provides a much clearer, sharper picture on screen, with more natural colours and the option of surround sound. It really is a súil eile,” said Pól Ó Gallchóir, Ardstiúthóír of TG4.
As part of the new deal agreed between the Ladies Gaelic Football Association and TG4, the station will broadcast 70 matches both online and on television over the next three years. For the very first time coverage of the O’Connor Cup, the women’s intervarsity competition will be aired.
“The renewal of the sponsorship of the Senior, Intermediate and Junior intercounty championships in the current economic climate is an indication of the excellent marketable product that we have and further cements a partnership of mutual benefit that exists between TG4 and Cumann Peil Gael na mBan,” added Pat Quill, Uachtarán Cumann Peil Gael na mBan.
The All-Ireland Senior Championship will be hotly contested. Defending champions Cork will be out for revenge over Monaghan who defeated them in the Division One league final. Dublin beat Kildare in the Leinster semi-final and will be looking to emulate their male counterparts by winning the provincial and All-Ireland titles this year.
Mayo emerged victorious from the battle for Division Two, while Laois have a strong tradition of success in ladies’ football but will first have to overcome the challenge of Kildare in the first round qualifier.
Last year, Westmeath needed a replay to see off the challenge of neighbours Cavan by a single point in the intermediate final and those two counties will once again be vying for top honours. Leitrim narrowly lost the Division Three league final to Westmeath and will be out to displace their rivals from the midlands. Longford and Limerick contested the Division Four final and both teams have the benefit of being coached by experienced footballers. Mayo legend Diane O’Hora is in charge of Longford while former Kerry star Ann Eager manages Limerick.
The race for the junior championship will be another close run affair. Louth have experience of being in an All-Ireland decider while Antrim are the rising stars of the scene.