Who is the only county to have had the same sponsors since the GAA introduced shirt sponsorship back in 1991? That county is Offaly and the sponsor is Carroll’s Ham.
Twenty two years later Carroll’s Ham is still proud sponsors of Offaly GAA County teams and this week it has been announced that the sponsorship is being extended.
To celebrate this achievement and to mark the extension of the sponsorship Carroll’s Ham are going to give a complimentary cup of tea and a Carroll’s Ham sandwich for all match goers at this Saturday’s (March 16th) double bill at O’Connor Park in Tullamore. The Offaly versus Carlow Allianz Football League game has a 2pm throw in and it will be preceded by Offaly v Cork in the National Camogie League at 12.15pm. There will also be a free raffle and giveaways on the day.
The official announcement of Carroll’s sponsorship renewal and the launch of the new Offaly jersey will get underway after the Offaly versus Carlow match in the ‘Club Faithful Supporters Zone’ under the stand in O’Connor Park.
The first occasion Offaly wore Carroll’s on their jersey was on Sunday, June 30th, 1991 at GAA headquarters Croke Park against Dublin in the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship semi-final. Captained by current Kilcormac/Killoughey manager Danny Owens, Offaly were just after capturing their first ever National Hurling League title.
Offaly County Chairperson Padraig Boland paid tribute to Carroll’s Ham for their continued and unwavering support for Offaly GAA.
“I am delighted that we will be continuing our very special relationship with Carroll’s Ham. For almost a quarter of a century they have been supporting our county teams and the development of our games in county Offaly and I thank them for that. We look forward now to extending that relationship into the future.”
Speaking on behalf of Carroll’s Ham, Deirdre O’Neill, Marketing Manager said that they were delighted to be extending a partnership with Offaly that is unique within the GAA for its longevity.
“At Carroll’s Ham we are proud of our roots, we are proud to be from Offaly and having the Carroll’s Ham name on the Offaly county shirts has helped us to become a national success story.” Ms O’Neill added, “Today we support 105 local jobs and we are recruiting another 26. Carroll’s Ham has built its business supporting local communities, buying local, buying Irish. Supporting the GAA and our own county is right for us and we look forward to continuing that support.” The Carroll’s logo has proudly adorned Offaly jerseys for 23 years, and Carroll’s support of Offaly gaelic football and hurling teams is the longest running sponsorship relationship in the GAA. Carroll’s and Offaly GAA most certainly is ‘The Dream Team’ and together they enjoyed magnificent success.
In 1997 Offaly were Leinster senior football champions and the following year they became National Football League Division 1 champions for the first occasion. Offaly captured Division 2 & 4 NFL titles in 2004 & 2008, respectively, while in 2006 Offaly, watched by an official attendance 81,754, contested the Leinster Senior Football Championship only to have their ambitions shattered by Dublin.
With Carroll’s ‘fuelling the passion’, Offaly captured a Leinster U-21 Football Championship title in 1995, while the ‘Faithful County’ were Leinster Junior Football Champions in 1998 and 2001.
Offaly and Carroll’s reached the pinnacle of hurling in 1994 and 1998 as All-Ireland senior glory was secured with dramatic victories over Limerick and Kilkenny, respectively. The ’98 campaign was particularly memorable 65,491 watching Offaly become the first ever ‘back-door’ All-Ireland hurling kingpins, while the All-Ireland semi-final trilogy against Clare attracted a cumulative official attendance figure of 117,231, not to mention the unbelievable media hype that surrounded those battles.
Offaly were crowned Leinster senior hurling champions in 1994 & ’95, while they were Leinster finalists in 1996, ’98, ’99, 2000 & 2004. Offaly and Carroll’s were also centre stage for the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Finals of 1995 and 2000, only to be denied silverware by Clare and Kilkenny, respectively. The 90’s was the golden era of hurling and Offaly and Carroll’s were very much to the forefront.
After Offaly captured their only NHL crown in 1991 Carroll’s teamed up with the County Board and the ‘Faithful County’ were Leinster U-21 hurling champions in 1991, ’92 & 2000. A Leinster minor hurling title was added to the championship roll of honour list in 2000, while more recently Offaly hurlers were Division 2 League winners in 2005 & 2009.
Meanwhile, last weekend’s important victories over Leitrim and Wexford in the Allianz Football and Hurling Leagues respectively keep Offaly’s aspirations for the 2013 season very much on track. The footballers, under the stewardship of Emmet McDonnell, are striving to secure promotion from Division 4, while the hurlers, managed by Ollie Baker, are targeting a place in the Division 1B Final. Both sides have crunch games in the weeks ahead and they are wished every success in those assignments.