Allianz Sign Up For Another Three Years With The GAA
(L-R) Galway manager Alan Mullholland, GAA Director General Páraic Duffy, Dublin's Kevin McManamon, Donegal manager Jim McGuinness, Allianz CEO Brendan Murphy and Cork manager Conor Counihnan (INPHO)
Allianz and the GAA have announced that the Allianz Leagues sponsorship agreement, first signed in 1993, will be renewed for a further three years to 2015 making it one of the longest running sponsorships in Irish sport.
Between next Saturday and Sunday, April 29, a total of 124 football games will be played across all Divisions in the 20th year of Allianz association with the competition.
The 2011 inter-county football year ended in September with Dublin beating Kerry in a memorable All-Ireland final and the 2012 season will begin with another thrilling episode in the great rivalry when Pat Gilroy and Jack O'Connor take their teams to Croke Park next Saturday night as the main event in a double header which will launch the Allianz Leagues.
Dublin v Kerry throws in at 2.15pm EST and will be preceded by what promises to be a fascinating Division 2 clash between Kildare and Tyrone (12pm EST).
It's a mouth-watering double header, featuring four counties who look certain to be in contention for all the main prizes this year.
Commenting at the launch of the 2012 Allianz Leagues campaign, Brendan Murphy, CEO Allianz said: "In partnership with the GAA we have aimed to play our part in presenting the Allianz Leagues in the best possible way and to show that we very genuinely share in the passion and commitment for Gaelic Games that can be seen in every single county on this island.
"It's for this reason and many more besides that we are delighted to announce that our sponsorship of Allianz Leagues will now be extended for another three seasons up to and including 2015.
"This is a substantial undertaking at a time of great economic difficulty and it again underscores Allianz's commitment, not only to our national games, but also our determination to help maintain one of the mainstays of community life throughout the 32 counties of Ireland."
Also commenting Páraic Duffy, Ard Stiúrthóir Cumann Lúthchleas Gael said: "The onset of the Allianz Football Leagues remind us all that a new season is about to commence and there will be no shortage of enthusiasm and hope around as new managers try out new players in the pursuit of national honours.
"Last year's competitions were particularly successful with Cork emerging on top in an exciting division one encounter against Dublin and the Spring Series, which will lift off here again next weekend, was a big success.
"I would like to publicly acknowledge Allianz's ongoing support, especially in light of the sponsorship extension announced here today, and we look forward to working with them for many years to come promoting what is a hugely important competition for us."
Allianz support campaign this year will see some additions particularly in utilising digital media to enhance its sponsorship.
This will include the launch of Allianzleaguespredictions.ie - an online competition for GAA aficionados to play and potentially win some cash prizes for themselves and their chosen club.
In addition Allianz will be utilising its social media platforms - Facebook, Twitter and YouTube - to feed through information and content on the Allianz Leagues to GAA fans.
Allianz Leagues fixtures will be spread over Saturdays and Sundays, with many covered 'live' by Setanta and TG4.
Cork, who begin their campaign away to Armagh next Sunday, will be attempting to win the Division 1 title for the third successive year, a feat last achieved by Kerry who won the League four-in-a-row in 1971-72-73-74.
Cork ran great League campaigns in 2010 and 2011 and it will now be interesting to see if they can complete the treble.
The last time Dublin won the League in a season after they won the All-Ireland title was in 1978.
They beat Armagh in the 1977 All-Ireland final and added the League title to their haul in April 1978, beating Mayo in the final. Kerry last took the title in 2009.
Donegal and Laois are this season's Division 1 newcomers, having won promotion from Division 2 last season while Galway and Monaghan made the reverse trip, dropping down to Division 2.
Louth and Westmeath were promoted to Division 3 while Longford and Roscommon emerged from Division 4.