Thurles Sarsfields contribution to the local economy through its staging of the Thurles Sarsfields International Festival of Hurling in the town on Munster hurling final week-end, has been recognised with an award under the Shannon Development Conference and Sports Ambassador programme.
The club was one of fifty participants in the programme in the Shannon region whose combined efforts have generated more than 35m in tourism revenue in counties Tipperary, Limerick, Clare and Offaly.
Sarsfields were singled out for the award, according to Shannon Development, for “ its contribution to sports tourism in delivering the Thurles Sarsfields International Hurling Festival in 2011 and 2012 and for working with Shannon Development and the Shannon Region Conference and Sports Bureau to attract the European hurling and camogie finals to Thurles this year.
Thurles is the European Town of Sport for 2012, and the festival will also include Caman Abu, a tournament involving celebrity teams who will play “recreational hurling”, a new concept in the GAA. Hurl Ball, (handball with hurleys) is another innovation this year when road bowling, featuring an inter-povincial competition in the town, will be a first in Tipperary. A concert by Tipperary Comhaltas musicians will be held at Sarsfields Social Centre on the opening night of the festival.
The Ambassadors Programme was devised to increase the Shannon region’s share of the lucrative international sports and business tourism market, and, according to Tony Brazil, Chairman of the Shannon Region Conference and Sports Bureau, events held here last year and planned for this year, would have gone elsewhere were it not for the supports put in place under the programme.
Dr Vincent Cunnane, Chief Executive Shannon Development, said sports and tourism in the region benefits a range of businesses from the accommodation sector, transport services, pubs, restaurants, through to visitor attractions, sports facilities, and the retail trade. He complimented all involved in showcasing the region through the programme.
Mr Michael Noonan, Minister for Finance, who attended the function, described the programme as “innovative” and congratulated the award winners on the work they were doing to promote their communities and businesses.
Sarsfields award was accepted on behalf of the club by John Enright, Chairman of the Festival Committee and Margaret O Dwyer, secretary. John welcomed the award and said it reflected recognition of the diversity of the various elements of this year’s event on July 13th/14th.
“We believe we have made significant progress in helping establish Thurles as a sports tourism centre and that this will greatly benefit the local economy in these difficult times. We hope the people of the town will get behind us in this venture by making the visitors welcome and ensuring that their short stay with us will be memorable for them and encourage them to return”, he added.