Last July Thurles Sarsfields here in Co Tipperary hosted their first ever International Hurling Festival, its coveted prize, the Tom Semple Cup.
This year, Thurles, proudly waving the banner “European Town of Sport,” for 2012, will see an even more exciting Festival, with the competition expanded to 12 teams, with the European County Finals in Hurling and Camogie also taking place. The first every official Hurl Ball competition will be established and Road Bowling teams from Cork and Northern Ireland have promised to join in and entertain. Four teams from the USA have already expressed an interest in taking part in 2013.
This inaugural competition, initiated by Thurles Sarsfields, in an effort to promote Tipperary as a venue for National and International tourism, saw eight teams taking part on Munster Final weekend 2011: The Wild Geese from the USA; Robert Emmets and Kilburn Gaels from London; Na Magha from Derry; Keady from Armagh; Naomh Moinne from Louth; Dunboyne from Meath and Naas from Co. Kildare.
The 2011 Tom Semple Cup was presented to the captain of Kilburn Gaels, after an exciting final against Dunboyne, by Anne Semple, daughter of hurling great, Tom Semple.
The success of the competition can be gauged by the fact that all teams have agreed to come back in 2012 and all publicly have expressed their enjoyment and appreciation of the event. The festival gave a much needed boost to the local economy last year and was very much appreciated by local business and all tourist interests in the area. The Tom Semple Cup is now recognised by both Croke Park and Shannon Development and is a permanent fixture on the GAA calendar.
To all our friends abroad, Thurles says “Come home for the hurling.”