All rosy in the Garden as sponsor confirmed

WICKLOW’S good run in this year’s championship and the confirmation that Mick O’Dwyer is remaining as manager have been identified as helped the Garden County GAA board to buck the national trend by attracting a new sponsor for the next three years.

Hotelier Barry Brennan stepped into the breach left vacant by Ballymore Properties. A native of Wexford, Brennan has been living in Wicklow for many years and owns the Arklow Bay Hotel, as well as hotels in Kilkenny, Clonmel, Dublin and Bettystown.

He has sponsored Wicklow’s minor and U21 teams in the past and also supports a number of clubs.

County secretary, Michael Murphy, admitted that there was some concern about whether or not a replacement would be found but is delighted that a deal has been reached with Brennan Hotels.

“We were mighty relieved really,” admitted Murphy. “Ballymore were very good to us and we are very grateful to them for their three years.

“They notified us recently that they weren’t taking up the option of extending the sponsorship.

“Barry is well into the GAA and has been sponsoring teams at county level for almost 10 years. With the minors last year, he was doing water boy. That’s how much he’s into it. So we’re very pleased to get him on board for three years, especially in these harsh economic times. We’re very grateful.”

The sponsorship covers the senior, junior, U21 and minor teams, while there are some accessory packages that will facilitate the board in developing football in the county. Murphy wouldn’t go into specifics with regard to how much the deal was worth to Wicklow other than to say that “we’re very, very pleased”.

He explained that it was vital to secure a sponsor, given the spiralling cost of running a host of county teams.

“We got a great run this year but there’s another effect on that as costs increase. We were delighted with that run of course and are hoping it will continue. It certainly did help us to sell our sponsorship. Also the fact that Mick is staying on helped too. Now we have a strong package that can hopefully help Wicklow to go even further next year.”

Meanwhile Leitrim GAA chiefs are looking for a new backer after the announcement that one of the longest running sponsorships in Gaelic games is coming to an end. Masonite Ireland will end their 11-year sponsorship of Leitrim GAA as the economic downturn continues to bite.

The company, which employs 240 people at its Carrick-on-Shannon plant where it manufactures door skins for the Irish and export markets, has sponsored all Leitrim teams and the county senior football championship since 1999. The company opened its Leitrim plant in 1997 on a 150-acre site and Leitrim board chairman Gerry McGovern acknowledged their contribution over the years.

“It’s been a great sponsorship. I want to pay tribute to Masonite for their superb support for the GAA in Leitrim over the past 11 years,” he said.

Masonite Ireland managing director, Cormac Kearns, said the firm’s association with Leitrim GAA has been mutually beneficial and rewarding. The search will now begin for a new sponsor for Mickey Moran and John Morrison’s team and chairman McGovern is hopeful they will have a new sponsor soon.

He said: “These are difficult times but we are confident of having someone in place by the start of the league.”

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