County sides good business, says Waterford sponsor

INTER-COUNTY GAA teams remain a worthwhile investment for potential sponsors despite the grim economic environment, according to Robert Finnegan, chief executive of mobile phone operators, 3.

The multi-national company has committed to a two-year deal with Waterford GAA which includes the minor, junior, U-21 and senior grades in both codes.

“From a sponsor’s point of view, it is always difficult to know where and when to get involved but we are a growing organisation,” said Finnegan.

“Our base grew significantly last year, in 2009. We are just approaching half a million customers from 300,000 the year before.

“As we grow, we need to build our awareness around the country. What better way of doing that than being involved with a high-profile GAA team, whether that is hurling or football or both, as in this case with Waterford.”

This is not the first sporting sponsorship which 3 has committed itself to in Ireland. AIL sides UL Bohs and Waterpark are under their banner, while Pádraig Harrington and golf’s Irish Open are other ‘brand’ partners.

As a native of Dunmore East, Finnegan’s background will have helped the parties come together. Talks began in late summer-early September and were wrapped up in double quick time.

“Maybe we should have held out for more,” joked county chairman Tom Cunningham, “but we are just delighted to have 3 on board.”

Multi-nationals haven’t been the only parties to commit to the market in recent months. Urlingford-based MW Hire agreed a sponsorship deal with the Laois county board last September shortly after the Heritage Hotel ended its association.

However, other counties have not been so fortunate. Wexford were hit by the withdrawal of Wexford Creameries this month while a number of counties are keeping their fingers crossed that other companies do not choose to follow suit.

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