GAA festival 'to welcome thousands'

Published Monday, 03 February 2014
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Queen’s University has launched a Gaelic games festival which begins this month.

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The festival, which runs from 13 February to 22 March, is set to welcome over 12,000 people to the city, providing a major boost to the local economy, as well as the hospitality and culture sectors.

In addition to the action on the pitch, the festival atmosphere will be encouraged throughout Belfast, with a packed programme of health-related and cross-community events, including music, comedy nights and talks with well-known sports personalities.

The action begins on February 13 -16 with Camogie's Ashbourne Cup, and will continue on 20 - 22 February with Gaelic Football's Irish Daily Mail Sigerson Cup, Hurling's Irish Daily Mail Fitzgibbon Cup on 27 February to 1 March and Ladies Football's O'Connor Cup on 21-22 March.

Queen's is setting a precedent with the creation of the Festival, as no other university or college has ever hosted all four of the major higher education Gaelic Games tournaments in the same year.

The massive undertaking will see over 2,250 players battle it out at Queen's world-class facility at Upper Malone in Belfast. Created as the result of a £13m redevelopment by the university, it allows all matches to be played on the one site.

Speaking at the launch of Queen's GAA Festival, Lord Mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir said: "Queen's University have taken on a tremendous challenge in staging these four prestigious intervarsity competitions.

"The facilities at their disposal are world class and I am confident both players and spectators alike will be treated to an amazing experience. This festival proves once again that Belfast is one of the leading cities in hosting major sporting competitions."

Sports Minister for Northern Ireland, Carál Ní Chulín added: "I am delighted to be able to welcome everyone to the Queen's GAA Festival. The Festival is a celebration of culture, sport and heritage and offers us the opportunity to showcase Queen's Belfast and its facilities to the wider GAA family.

"DCAL is one of the principal sponsors of this festival and I believe GAA in Ulster has never been stronger. I would like to congratulate all those involved in the organisation of the festival and wish all the teams and coaching staff every success in the coming competitions."

Also speaking at the launch, Queen's University's acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor James McElnay, who said: "Queen's is delighted that its commitment to delivering world-class sporting facilities for its students has helped bring these four high profile sporting events to the University and to Belfast.

"Over the coming weeks we can look forward to a celebration of sporting excellence and achievement, alongside a packed programme of cross-community sporting, social and family events."

He continued: "I would like to thank all our partners for their valuable support and congratulate our students and staff on organising this unique Festival.

"Queen's is once again leading the way, and a warm Queen's welcome awaits the thousands of players, mentors and supporters who will be coming to Belfast over the coming weeks for our Festival."

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