Sixteen teams from around the world will compete in the first international hurling festival which is to be held in Galway in September.
Aer Lingus, in partnership with Etihad Airways, is hosting the festival with qualifying games taking place in regional towns around Galway and the finals being staged at Pearse Stadium.
The festival, which was launched last evening in the Galway Bay Hotel, will see teams from the USA, Canada, Britain, Continental Europe, the Middle East, South America, and Australia particpate in this world first to be staged from September 18 to 21. A local underage tournament will run in parallel to the adult event.
The four festival host towns, which include Loughrea, Gort, and Ballinasloe, in addition to “Galway West”, will provide accommodation for the overseas teams, in addition to festival hotels.
Aer Lingus chief human resources officer Michael Grealy says hurling is uniquely Irish and is a source of pride to the Irish all around the world.
"We are very excited to bring this one of its kind hurling festival to Galway city and county, in the year of The Gathering. Galway is renowned, not only for its hospitality, but also for its festivals of traditional music and dance.
“We have seen a huge response to the event and are confident that the Aer Lingus hurling festival, together with our partners Etihad Airways, will help to foster an interest in one of our most loved national sports.”
Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways’ chief commercial officer, said: “As proud sponsor of the GAA Hurling All Ireland Senior Championship and official airline to the GAA, we are delighted to support the International Hurling Festival. The festival will bring teams from the Middle East and Australia to Ireland, the home of Gaelic sports, and we are very proud to play such a key role in making the event a huge success. We wish best of luck to all the teams that take part.”
The 16 participating teams are: New York; San Francisco; Chicago; London, St Gabriel’s; London, Kilburn Gaels; London, Robert Emmets; Rest of Britain; Australia; Canada; Europe (Irish ); Europe (non Irish ); The Middle East; Buenos Aires; Barley House Wolves/ Allentown; Denver/ Indianapolis, and Milwaukee.