There is no admission charge to the Thurles Sarsfields International Hurling Festival games which will be played throughout Saturday July 14th at St Patrick’s College, Morris Park and Sarsfields outside pitch, the organising committee announced this week.
Chairman of the organising committee John Enright told the Tipperary Star that by not having an admission charge, the club is hoping that the general public will turn out in numbers to support the tams who are coming to Thurles from Europe, England, Northern Ireland and the United States as well as from some counties where hurling plays second fiddle to football.
“We will have over one thousand people in town for the various events that comprise the festival. This is our way of promoting Thurles as a sports tourism venue. It is for the benefit of the town and we are confident the people of the town will make our visitors very welcome so that their experience of Thurles will be a very positive one and encourage them to return again”, he said.
The official opening of the festival takes place on Friday night at 8.30 at Sarsfields Centre and will be followed by a concert by Tipperary Comhaltas musicians, singers and dancers.
Competition gets under way on Saturday morning. Because of the All-Ireland qualifier games in Semple Stadium on Saturday evening, the starting time has been brought forward. The prestigious Semple Cup opens proceedings at Morris Park and Sarsfields outside field at 11am, with the Carew Cup competition (losers section) following on.
The European hurling and camogie championships are being played at St Patrick’s College grounds, also commencing at 11 am.
The Ursuline all-weather pitches will be busy with the staging of wheelchair hurling and the Caman Abu(recreational hurling), due to kick off about noon.
The interprovincial road bowling competition for the Cusack Cup and the under age bowling competitions will begin at the Cormackstown Road , just off the Holycross Road junction, at 11am. Special arrangements for parking are being put in place for the event which will be stewarded by people expert in this regard.
Among the distinguished visitors expected at the festival are the President of the GAA Liam O Neill, and Minister of State for Sport and Tourism, Alan Kelly TD. Mrs Anne Gunning, daughter of the Tom Semple, will also attend to present the cup dedicated to her late father.
John Enright praised the support received from the many local sponsors without whom the festival could not go ahead. He was also very appreciative of the in-put of Shannon Development, headed by Brian Keating, whose expertise had been of immense help in putting together the programme which coincides with Thurles being European Town of Sport 2012.
“This is a Sarsfields initiative but it is really a community project for the benefit or our town, and it is most encouraging to see so many putting their shoulder to the wheel to make it happen. We believe this has the potential to develop into a major international festival built around hurling and the Munster final week-end. It is really up to ourselves to make this happen. This is our second festival and the signs to date are most positive”, he added.