A Queen's festival of a different kind
With Queen's University set to play host to the four main university Gaelic games competitions in 2014, they held a launch at Croke Park yesterday, attended by the presidents of the GAA, the Camogie Association and Ladies' Gaelic Football Association.
'Queen's GAA Festival' marks the fact in 2014 they will become the first institution to host Sigerson, Ashbourne, Fitzgibbon and O'Connor Cup finals in the one year, and at the one venue.
All four competitions are the flagship events in the Higher Education sporting calendar and over 2,250 players, and thousands of supporters, will converge on Queen's Upper Malone playing fields.
The venue, formerly known to many as 'The Dub', was reopened earlier this year after a £13 million redevelopment.
The festival competitions will run across consecutive weekends, beginning with Camogie's Ashbourne Cup on February 13, 2014, and continuing with the Irish Daily Mail Sigerson Cup (Feb 20-23), the Irish Daily Mail Fitzgibbon Cup (Feb 27-March 2) and the O'Connor Cup (Mar 20-23).
Queen's University's acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor James McElnay, said: "Queen's is delighted that its commitment to delivering world-class sporting facilities for its students has helped to bring four of the most high profile sporting events on the island of Ireland to the university and to Belfast.
GAA president Liam O'Neill added: "It is hard to cite a proposed event that better encapsulates the plans we have for integration in the GAA and the staging of these superb third level competitions at the impressive Upper Malone Sports Grounds really captures the imagination.
"I laud everyone involved in Queen's University connected with this undertaking, and I have no doubt that these events will showcase everything that is positive about football, hurling and camogie."