Hopes that the Thurles Sarsfields Hurling Festival would develop into a major visitor attrraction for the town were voiced at the launch of this year’s event at Sarsfields Social Centre on Friday night last.
Now in its fourth year, the festival was officially launched by Ann Gunning(Semple) daughter of Tipperary and Sarsfields hurling legend, Tom Semple, and which will be a week-long event, running from July 5th to July 12th, in the run-up to the Munster hurling final.
The main hurling competition in the festival is for the Tom Semple Cup, a tournament which this year has attracted top teams from Cork, Waterford, Galway, Offaly, Kilkenny, Dublin and Tipperary. The enlarged programme includes camogie, road bowling, caman abu(recreational hurling), with ladies football, rounders and handball competitions included for the first time in an extensive schedule.
Thurles Chamber of Commerce, through its President, John O Shaughnessy, pledged the full support of the Chamber for the festival and said they hoped to create a festival atmosphere in the town through the organising of a number of ancillary events, including a mini fleadh,shop window displays, etc., and a golf tournament.
Joint chairman of the organising committee, John Lanigan, welcomed all to the launch, particulary members of the Semple family, representatives of the various participating sporting groups, and Liam O Shea, Chief Executive of Tipp FM, media partners.
Mr O Shea said that Tipp FM were delighted to be associated with the festival. He congratulated the Sarsfields club on their initiative and pledged their ongoing support for it. The distinguished gathering, who were also welcomed by Sarsfields club chairman, Michael Maher, included, Sean Nugent, chairman of Tipperary GAA Board; Robert Frost, Chairman of the Munster Council GAA; Joe O Donoghue, of the National Rounders Association; Susan Greene and Jim O Driscoll of the Road Bowling Association; John O Shaughnessy and John Butler of the Thurles Chamber of Commerce; Michael Ryan, Thurles Town Clerk; Noel Coonan, TD; newly elected members of Tipperary Co Council; Mary Prendergast, representing Co Manager, Joe McGrath.; representatives of the camogie, ladies football, and handball associations at local and county level, and Joan Pollard Carew, organiser of the ceili mor on the closing night of the festival.
In formally launching the festival, Ann Gunning expressed the appreciation of the Semple family that Sarsfields was honouring her late father in such a fashion.