Electric Ireland Celebrates the launch of the 2023 Celtic Challenge

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Electric Ireland Celebrates the launch of the 2023 Celtic Challenge!

The 2023 Electric Ireland GAA Celtic Challenge hurling competition gets underway on Saturday 8th April with 38 teams from 30 counties taking part in one of the most innovative developmental initiatives within the GAA calendar.

The Electric Ireland GAA Celtic Challenge has played an integral role in expanding the games programme for top tier and developing counties since 2016. An U17 developmental competition, the group format provides teams with the opportunity to play three games over the space of three weekends. Quarter-Final pairings are performance based with counties playing up to six games in the competition.

Counties have the opportunity to enter multiple teams with the success of this model clearly evidenced in 2022 as there was success right across the tiers. Cork North, Wicklow Blue and Kildare Lilywhites joined Tipperary, Offaly and Sligo in claiming honours. Cork, who have again entered four sides in the Celtic Challenge along with one team in the All-Ireland Minor Championship, are an example of counties providing a great opportunity for the players in their pathway.

The Kildare resurgence in hurling is being rewarded for their efforts in fielding three Celtic Challenge sides alongside a minor team whilst Wicklow and Offaly have entered two teams as they work towards creating more players of inter-county standard within their counties.

The Electric Ireland Celtic Challenge is named in recognition of the original juvenile hurling club known as ‘Celtic’. The Divisional trophies are named in memory of six of the 14 civilians who were killed at Croke Park on Bloody Sunday, 21st November, 1920: Michael Hogan (24), Tom Hogan (27), John William Scott (14), William Robinson (11), Jerome O’Leary (10) and Michael Feery (40).

Uachtarán CLG Larry McCarthy said: “The Celtic Challenge plays a crucial role in nurturing the next generation of hurling talent. It gives more players the opportunity to play and to test themselves, not only in a competitive environment but at a level in which they can compete. For our established counties it broadens the net for them to try out players. For our emerging counties there is the chance to develop talent and make progress. Landmark events like Naas winning an intermediate club championship last year and Kildare being in an Allianz National League final, or Tooreen of Mayo and Easkey of Sligo contesting junior and intermediate club hurling finals at Croke Park this year show that the hard work being done by clubs to grow the game is working.

“Last year, Wicklow deservedly made headlines by reaching two Celtic Challenge finals and winning one, and I know that in a recent league outing they had 12 of their starting team who had come through the Celtic Challenge ranks and shows how beneficial it can be. For a young competition it has already left its mark and I want to thank our partners, Electric Ireland, for their assistance in helping us to grow this competition.”

GAA Director of Coaching & Games, Shane Flanagan, said: “The Electric Ireland Celtic Challenge is an integral part of the GAA developmental programme. The competition provides a meaningful games programme for all counties and ensures that there is an appropriate pathway for players from developing counties to play intercounty hurling against top tier sides. Additionally, it allows Tier 1 counties to have additional players outside of their intercounty minor squads therefore widening their base of players. We have seen multiple success stories in recent years through the competition and our finals days always produce some top-quality games as part of a festival of hurling.”

Speaking at the launch, Sarah Sharkey, Group Sponsorship & PR Manager for Electric Ireland, said:

“At Electric Ireland, we are passionate about supporting the youth and development of Gaelic Games players which is why we are delighted to be launching our second year as sponsor of the Electric Ireland Celtic Challenge Cup. We understand just how important these developmental competitions are for young players and hope that the Electric Ireland Celtic Challenge Cup can represent a pivotal and memorable time in these players’ lives, paving the way for future successes, on and off the pitch.”

The competition starts on Saturday 8th April and all teams will qualify for a Quarter-Final on Saturday, 6th May. Winners will then advance to their respective semi-finals on Saturday 13th May and the Finals are on Saturday 27th May. The full list of fixtures can be found at: www.gaa.ie/celticchallenge

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