O’Neills have been unveiled by Cricket Ireland as the new sponsor of three Ulster competitions in a two year deal.
Teams from the Northern and North West Cricket Unions across the province will be competing in 2014 and 2015 for the O’Neills Ulster Cup, Shield and Plate.
Kieran Kennedy, Managing Director of O’Neills, said of the sponsorship deal: “It’s further evidence of our commitment to Irish cricket. We’ve an excellent working relationship with Cricket Ireland and our existing deal has been mutually beneficial to both parties. It’s fantastic that we’re able to help the sport at grass roots as well as international level, and fits in well with our business model, supporting local communities across Ireland. We look forward to working closely with all clubs who will be involved in these tournaments”
Dennis Cousins, Head of Commercial, Cricket Ireland speaking from the launch at the O’Neills factory in Strabane said: “We’re delighted to extend our partnership with O’Neills to include these very prestigious tournaments in Northern Ireland. Since we commenced our partnership with O’Neills in 2012, they have consistently surpassed our expectations on all levels. This extended partnership also presents a great opportunity for O’Neills to build on their relationship with Irish cricket clubs and with cricket in general, as participation and interest in cricket continues to grow at record levels.”
Tournament Director Roger Bell welcomed the new sponsorship boost saying: “I am delighted to welcome O’’Neills as the new sponsors of the Ulster Cup, Shield, and Plate competitions. I look forward to working with them in 2014 and beyond.”
Since its inception in 1999, the Ulster Cup has become the most prestigious trophy competed for by the top ranked senior teams in Northern Ireland. The inter-union competition expanded in 2005 with the emergence of the Ulster Shield for second tier sides, with the Ulster Plate, a competiton for intermediate teams being formed in 2008.
The first round of the O’Neills Ulster Cup takes place on Saturday May 31st, with defending champions Coleraine facing a tricky assignment away at two times winners North Down. Four times champions Instonians travel to Eglinton, while 2005 winners Strabane are on the road to meet CIYMS.
Last year’s beaten finalists Waringstown host Fox Lodge, while newly promoted Ardmore have home advantage over CSNI. Muckamore entertain Bready, while the North West’s most successful team in the competition - three times victors Brigade - are home to 2000 champions Lisburn. 2004 champions Donemana have been given a bye.
The first round of the O’Neills Ulster Shield takes place on May 25, while the O’Neills Ulster Plate gets under way on June 1.
O’Neills was founded in 1918 and will mark its 40th anniversary in Strabane this year. They have been the official kit supplier to Cricket Ireland since 2012 are based on a 12 acre site in Strabane.
O’Neills are the largest garment manufacturer on the island of Ireland. The company recently announced a £3m investment in Strabane which will create sixty new jobs bringing the number of staff up to four hundred.