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02 May 2019

Sam Maguire comes ‘home’ to London as GAA and Tourism Ireland mark the start of Championship 2019 at the Embassy of Ireland in Great Britain

Connacht GAA and Tourism Ireland have joined forces to announce the start of the 2019 GAA Football Championship, at the Embassy of Ireland in London.
This year’s football championship will swing into life on Sunday next (May 5), with the meeting of London and Galway at McGovern Park, Ruislip, before New York hosts Mayo at Gaelic Park in the Big Apple. The two games herald the start of an eagerly awaited competition that will involve at least 68 games – barring replays – before the All-Ireland champions are crowned at Croke Park on Sunday, 1 September. The early stages of the competition will see the four provincial championships unfold before the two quarter-finals groups are confirmed and the All-Ireland series takes centre stage.
Today’s event has been organised with the co-operation of the Ambassador to the UK, Mr Adrian O’Neill, and is part of activity to showcase football and hurling as attractions for overseas visitors to Ireland, as well as to raise the profile of the games in Britain. Our unique Gaelic Games have become an increasingly important element of the tourism offering in recent years and they are represented prominently in Tourism Ireland’s promotional activity – in Britain and elsewhere around the world. Tourism Ireland has invited top British travel and sports journalists and influencers to attend this evening’s event in the Embassy of Ireland; Tourism Ireland will also invite the journalists to come and visit Ireland this summer – and to include a GAA match in their itinerary.
Brendan Griffin TD, Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, said: “I am delighted to be here in London to help launch the 2019 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship. I want to compliment the GAA and Tourism Ireland on this collaboration, which showcases Gaelic Games for the benefit of Ireland as a whole. As Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, I’m very aware of the many tourism benefits that sporting events bring to all parts of Ireland. One of the unique identifiers for Ireland, that gives us real stand-out in a very congested global tourism market, is our Gaelic Games, which help attract both international and domestic participants and spectators, with economic benefits for local tourism businesses. Sporting and cultural events have contributed significantly to the success of Irish tourism.
“The Tourism Action Plan 2019 – 2021, which Minister Ross and I launched last December, commits to ensuring that the appropriate structures and supports are in place to attract sporting and cultural events, which generate additional overseas tourism revenue and contribute to the promotion of Ireland. I hope the 2019 Football Championship will be a memorable one and I wish all participating counties the best of luck, including New York and London who are hosting games this coming weekend.”
Siobhan McManamy, Tourism Ireland’s Director of Markets, said: “We are delighted to partner with the GAA, to announce the start of this year’s Gaelic Football championship in London. Gaelic Games offer our overseas visitors an insight into something that is unique to Ireland and an opportunity to enjoy a truly authentic Irish experience. In our promotions, we’re encouraging British visitors to come and sample an integral part of our culture – by attending a Gaelic football or hurling match. We’re reminding them that it’s a really great thing to do on their Irish holiday – providing a fun, unique and memorable experience.”
GAA President John Horan said: “We are delighted to be in London to mark this occasion and I would like to thank Ambassador O’Neill for his co-operation and generosity in hosting the event. This evening’s event and our growing collaboration with Tourism Ireland can help raise awareness of our games, making them an attractive proposition for anyone visiting Ireland.
“I would also like to acknowledge the Connacht Council for their assistance in making this event possible and wish both London and Galway every best wish ahead of next weekend’s match.”
Connacht GAA President Gerry McGovern added: “It is fitting for us to be in London this evening, so close to the start of the 2019 Connacht championship, and by extension the GAA Football Championship. This annual fixture is an important day in the GAA calendar and will bring together GAA people from across Ireland and Britain for 70 minutes plus of exciting championship football. It serves an important function in connecting the GAA scene in London and indeed Britain with our premier football competition and I know the Irish diaspora value these games and will once again turn out in large numbers at the impressive McGovern Park.”
John Prenty, Connacht GAA; Paul Conroy, Galway player; Gerry McGovern, Connacht GAA; Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin TD; Siobhan McManamy, Tourism Ireland; Liam Gavaghan, London captain; sports commentator Marty Morrissey; and John Horan, GAA President, at the announcement of the start of the 2019 GAA Football Championship, at the Embassy of Ireland in London.

Notes To Editors

  • Tourism Ireland is the organisation responsible for promoting the island of Ireland overseas as a leading holiday destination.
  • Tourism is the island of Ireland’s largest indigenous industry; responsible for in excess of 4% of GNP in the Republic of Ireland and employing around 325,000 people across the island.
  • In 2018, we welcomed around 11.2 million overseas visitors to the island of Ireland, delivering revenue of approximately €6.1 billion.
  • Tourism Ireland’s international website is, 29 market sites available in 11 language versions around the world, which attracted 20.3 million visitors in 2018.