New Carrickdale deal boosts Armagh Ladies

February 2, 2015

Richard Bullick

Armagh ladies have been boosted going into the new season by a renewed deal with their long-standing headline sponsor, the Carrickdale Hotel.

The welcome extension means that the Carrickdale name will be on the Armagh jerseys for a 12th consecutive season as James Daly’s side seeks to build upon a successful 2014.

What must be one of the longest sponsorship partnerships in sport began back in 2004 and delivered some outstanding success in the early years with a succession of trophy triumphs.

Although the team’s fortunes fell away in subsequent seasons to the extent Armagh had only one win throughout a wretched 2011, the Carrickdale remained loyal and their faith has been rewarded with the side’s second coming under Daly.

Armagh have lost only six of the Dromintee man’s 41 matches in charge and been making impressive progress under his stewardship.

They began by taking the Ulster and All-Ireland Intermediate double in his first season before suffering a hat-trick of agonising one-point defeats in their three biggest games of a generally encouraging campaign in 2013.

However, their unrewarded development that year paved the way for last season’s surge when new captain Caroline O’Hanlon led the team to the NFL Division Three title, a first Ulster Championship success in seven seasons and the All-Ireland semi-finals.

This year, ambitious Armagh are hoping to secure a second successive NFL promotion, retain their Ulster title and reach Croke Park in September.

Those are certainly testing targets but the show of faith from the Carrickdale is a considerable boost and not just in the form of invaluable investment which helps towards team expenses.

“We’ve had a fantastic partnership with the Carrickdale down through the years and the unstinting support of the McParlands has helped establish Armagh as a significant force in ladies football,” says ALCB Chairman Owen Reel.

“They saw success for the team in the early days and although leaner times followed, they have faithfully stuck with us through thick and thin rather than walking away when results were disappointing and there didn’t seem much hope.

“Securing continued backing from the Carrickdale has been vital to Armagh’s regeneration and they deserved to see their jerseys back on our sport’s podiums last season.  We’re delighted that they’re continuing with us going into this new campaign, for which we have high hopes.

“With our top-class management group led by James Daly, recently reappointed and ongoing support from our main sponsor secured, the foundations are now in place for a concerted challenge in all competitions.

“Apart from financial input, we’ve got very valuable in-kind benefits from the Carrickdale during the sponsorship period, including the use of facilities, and of course it is always wonderful for the team to bring back a trophy to celebrate at the hotel.  Hopefully that will happen again in 2015,” said Reel.

Speaking on behalf of the hotel, owner John McParland said the Carrickdale was proud to continue its long association with the Armagh ladies side.

“Through the many years we’ve worked with Armagh ladies, the Carrickdale management and staff have been impressed with what a professional set-up it is,” he enthused.

“There are some incredibly dedicated girls who have been there throughout the past decade who are great role models and ambassadors.

“We were delighted with the team’s success last season in being crowned Ulster champions and would like to congratulate captain Caroline O’Hanlon on the huge honour of winning All-Ireland Player of the Year and picking up another All-Star along with Mairead Tennyson.

“It is a pleasure being associated with these distinguished sportswomen who are not only outstandingly successful on the field but also do everybody proud with how they conduct themselves.  I wish James and the team well for this season,” he reflected.

Speaking following Friday’s photoshoot to launch this latest sponsorship deal, Daly described the renewed backing as a great encouragement to the team who will have to wait until this Sunday to start their National League campaign – against Westmeath at Silverbridge (2pm) –after adverse weather forced the postponement of their scheduled opener away to Donegal.

“The Carrickdale Hotel have been there with us throughout almost my entire Armagh career and the players really appreciate their exceptional loyalty,” adds skipper O’Hanlon.

“Even with generous sponsors there’s always plenty of fundraising needed to make ends meet but the Carrickdale’s support has given us a stable base without which players simply couldn’t have afforded to play inter-county football for long.”