The 2011 Bord Gáis Energy GAA Under-21 Hurling Championship was launched at Croke Park today, ahead of the Championship opener in Munster between Waterford and Tipperary next Wednesday.
At the launch, sponsors Bord Gáis Energy announced that this year, with broadcast partners TG4, the U-21 Hurling Championship will feature the first ever 'player cam' to be used in Gaelic Games television coverage.
The Bord Gáis Energy team of ambassadors was also announced and this year includes Darach Honan (Clare), Noel McGrath (Tipperary), William Egan (Cork), David Burke (Galway), Dublin captain Liam Rushe, Noel Connors (Waterford) and Conor Fogarty of Kilkenny.
In addition, former Waterford hurler Ken McGrath joins Bord Gáis Energy Sports Sponsorship Manager and Cork legend, Ger Cunningham, RTÉ’s Marty Morrissey, Micheál O Domhnaill of TG4 and U-21 All-Ireland winner Joe Canning on the Breaking Through Player of the Year judging panel.
Speaking at the launch, GAA President Christy Cooney said: "In the coming weeks and months the Bord Gáis Energy GAA U-21 Hurling Championship will come into sharp focus, providing us with eagerly anticipated top level hurling and a glimpse of some of the most promising young hurlers in the game.
"Long summer days, big midweek games and high scoring epics have all become hallmarks of this Championship and the memorable campaigns of recent seasons underline the importance of this competition to all counties who harbour ambitions of capturing the top honours.
"That this Championship is played in tandem with the senior competition adds further to the allure of it as we chart the progress of those senior players who are still eligible to play at this grade."
Ger Cunningham added: "I'm very happy that this year, following discussions with the GAA at provincial level, the fixture schedule has been adjusted to ensure that there are no major fixture clashes.
"It means that the Munster U-21 semi-final between Waterford or Tipperary and Cork will be broadcast live on TG4, which is fantastic for the players involved and for the promotion of the game of hurling.
"The past two years have seen some hugely memorable matches at this level, with Clare's historic victory in 2009 and Tipperary's completion of the senior and U-21 double last year. I'm looking forward to more of the same this year and hopefully we have another fantastic season of hurling ahead."
The Bord Gáis Energy 'player cam' will be featured as part of TG4's live broadcasts of the Munster and Leinster provincial finals, All-Ireland semi finals and the All-Ireland final at this grade, and fans will be able to follow the player cam for the whole match online at www.tg4.tv once the All-Ireland series kicks in.