Return of Allstar tours a huge success: McCague

Jim O’Sullivan

Thanks to the sponsorship of Vodafone, whose continuing involvement has been confirmed the Association is in a position to reward the Allstar award winners and their replacements for excellence.

Following tours to Dubai and Argentina over the last two years (and Boston in October 1999), the link with the US has been re-established just over 30 years after the inaugural Allstars tour to San Francisco.

That year All-Ireland champions Tipperary and Offaly travelled out to California with the two Allstar teams Now, Mr McCague leads a party comprising the 2001 and 2002 Vodafone Allstar football teams, officials and journalists, for another trip stateside, to the city of San Diego.

The criteria for deciding on the destinations, explains Mr McCague, are quite straightforward.

"We want to go somewhere where we can be reasonably guaranteed sunshine and where there is an Irish community or an Irish base. Taking account of the number of emigrants on the West Coast of America, San Diego should be very accessible to them,'' he said.

"These tours are very important. That's clear from conversations with players on the last tours. They were very appreciative of the brief holiday they had.

"While many counties holiday abroad at this time of the year, the Allstar tours provide players with the opportunity to meet up with those whom they often play against but don't meet socially after games.''

Mr McCague indicated the Association has plans to enhance the Allstars concept and tours in the future, but wasn't in a position to elaborate.

Meanwhile, Vodafone chief executive Paul Donovan, stressed the importance of their partnership with the GAA, describing it as "enormously beneficial".

"The unique place that the games hold within the fabric of Irish society has been confirmed by the analysis we have done,'' he said.

"One of the main purposes of sponsorship is to support recognition and enhance brand awareness in the market and we are achieving this handsomely in Ireland, no doubt assisted through our association with the GAA.

"Globally, Vodafone has associated itself with sporting excellence. It is an intrinsic part of our communications strategy. In Australia we are part of the success of the Wallabies in Rugby Union and in England we sponsor Manchester United. We also have a global association with the Ferrari F1 team. "Using such criteria we originally became part of the GAA family and the success of our relationship ensures that we intend remaining within that family.''

According to Mr Donovan, the Allstars scheme is a 'perfect reflection' of the excellence within Gaelic games "The monthly awards allow us an even greater intimacy with the players, for whom my admiration is unbounded. Their commitment and dedication is beyond equal in the world of sport. We are committed to enhancing our place within the GAA in the future for the mutual benefit of both partners.''

While agreeing that the players can look forward to a short holiday, Sean McCague makes it clear that he will be expecting them to take the exhibition game on Saturday seriously.

"It is important that they play a serious game, as they did in Dubai and Argentina,'' he said.

"The hurlers put on an exhibition in Buenos Aires last year and we will want to ensure that people who go to the expense of travelling to San Diego on Saturday can see a game of top quality.''

The following were the players chosen as Allstars (*indicates not travelling): 2001 team: C Sullivan (Meath), K Fitzgerald (Galway), *D Fay (Meath), *C Goggins (Dublin); D Meehan (Galway), *F Grehan (Roscommon), S Óg de Paor (Galway); K Walsh (Galway), R O'Connell (Westmeath); E Kelly (Meath), S O'Neill (Tyrone), M Donnellan (Galway); O Murphy (Meath), *P Joyce (Galway), J Crowley (Kerry).

Replacements: G Doherty (Derry), L O'Brien (Wexford), D Mitchell (Westmeath), J McEntee (Armagh).

2002 team: *S Cluxton (Dublin); E McNulty (Armagh), *P Christie (Dublin), A. Lynch (Cork); A O'Rourke (Armagh), K McGeeney (*Armagh), K Cassidy (Donegal); *D O Sé (Kerry), P McGrane (Armagh); S McDonnell (Armagh), E O'Hara (Sligo), *O McConville (Armagh); P Canavan (Tyrone) *R Cosgrove (Dublin). *C Cooper (Kerry).

Replacements: B Tierney (Armagh), C Lawn (Tyrone), J Quane (Limerick), D Browne (Tipperary), J Gildea (Donegal), J Bergin (Galway).

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