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Donall Farmer/INPHO

6 key moments in the history of GAA sponsorship

Which of these milestones do you remember?

CONSIDERING THAT IT wasn’t until the early 1990s that the GAA first introduced jersey sponsorship and not until 1995 that the Senior Hurling Championship was sponsored, sponsorship in the GAA is a relatively recent development in its 132-year history.

Sponsorship has made a huge difference, placing Gaelic games in front of millions and taking the GAA from humble county finals to worldwide television coverage.

Here are some of our most memorable GAA sponsorship milestones along the way.

 1. The first time that GAA jerseys were sponsored

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It’s hard to picture the Dublin team without Arnotts or AIG emblazoned on their shirts, Barry’s Tea on Cork’s blood-and-bandages or Mayo’s Elverys logo.

Since 1991, Irish brands have become synonymous with the GAA’s most momentous wins and heartbreaking defeats.

2. The first time a home ground was sponsored

Gerard Smith and Tiernan McCann Presseye / Andrew Paton/INPHO Presseye / Andrew Paton/INPHO / Andrew Paton/INPHO

Just 15 years ago, Breffni Park in Cavan became the first home ground to be renamed as part of a sponsorship deal when it became Kingspan Breffni Park.

In one of the most significant sponsorship deals in the history of the GAA, 2011 also saw Mayo’s McHale Park renamed as part of a five-year agreement.

3. The first time club and county were linked by a sponsorship

Chloe Doyle, Natasha Farrell, Aine O'Neill, Erin McEvoy, Laura Newman, Sally Morrin and Leanne Holton celebrate after the game Tommy Dickson / INPHO Tommy Dickson / INPHO / INPHO

In 2015, it was first announced that AIB’s sponsorship of the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship would also trickle down to club championships.

A partnership that was the first of its kind in history, it will stay in place until March 2018.

4. The first time a sponsorship announcement went viral

Eimear Myles is tackled by Maria Delahunty Ken Sutton / INPHO Ken Sutton / INPHO / INPHO

The Ladyball campaign first came crashing onto social media news feeds in early 2016 as a viral campaign strategy to announce the €1.3 million Lidl was investing in Ladies Gaelic Football.

Although it caused great controversy at the time, the president of the LGFA defended the campaign, saying, “Any advertising campaign, no matter how controversial it is, has a focus. I think because of the fact that Lidl have shown how they really are supporting the serious athletes of our players in this campaign, shows really what it’s all about.”

5. The first time the GAA switched to a multi-sponsor

inpho_00454374 Donall Farmer / INPHO Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

It wasn’t until 2008 that the GAA switched to the multi-sponsor model for the first time with Toyota, Ulster Bank and Vodafone sponsoring football.

The same year, hurling was sponsored by Etihad, Guinness and RTÉ and although the brands are now different, the multi-sponsor model still remains in place to this day.

6. The first time Hawk-Eye was used (and sponsored) by any Irish sport

Referee Joe McQuillan signals for Hawk Eye James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

It was the answer to every heart-stopping moment when it wasn’t absolutely clear whether a point was won or not, and it was only 2013 when it was first introduced to all championship matches at Croke Park.

Specsavers was the first brand to support the move to technology which helped back up – or prove wrong – controversial referring decisions.

At Bord Gáis Energy, we know players are the heart of GAA. For eight years, we’ve followed the best, supporting them from U21s right through to their senior breakthroughs. That’s why we’re proud to expand our long-standing association with the GAA as an official sponsor of the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship.

Bord Gáis Energy