Aer Lingus, in partnership with Etihad Airways, has launched the International Hurling Festival.

The launch took place at the Irish Consulate in New York, with a reception for invited guests at Desmond’s on 7th Avenue. Special guests included former President of the GAA, Joe McDonagh and Galway Hurling Team Manager, Anthony Cunningham.
From the September 18 to 21 2013, Aer Lingus in partnership with Etihad Airways, will host the first ever International Hurling Festival. The qualifying games will take place in regional towns around Galway with the finals being staged at Pearse Stadium.
Aer Lingus in partnership with Etihad Airways is inviting teams from all over the world to compete in this unique tournament. Sixteen overseas teams will participate in the competition including teams from the UK, Continental Europe, New York, San Francisco, Canada, the Middle East and Australia.  The tournament will also serve as an opportunity to promote the game of hurling in developing regions by including teams such as Buenos Aires, Milwaukee, Indianapolis and a Europe team made up of non-Irish nationals.
The four festival host towns will be Gort – hosts to the New York team, Loughrea Ballinasloe and Galway West. The festival hotels in each town will provide accommodation for the overseas teams. A number of lively traditional music and dance events will be staged in these venues throughout the festival.
Aer Lingus will play host to a local underage Hurling Tournament that will run in parrell to the adult International Hurling Tournament.
Aer Lingus Chief Human Resources Officer  Michael Grealy said, "We are very excited to bring this one of its kind hurling festival to Galway City and County, in the year of The Gathering. The game of hurling is uniquely Irish, like Aer Lingus, and is a source of enormous pride to the Irish all around the World.
He added, “We are calling on all GAA fans in New York to come home to Ireland to support your team, be our guests at the Hurling Festival and to enjoy the sport, ceol agus craic, in September.”
Anthony Cunningham, Galway Hurling Team Manager said, “As a member of Galway GAA, I am proud that our county will be the home to such an exciting and unique celebration of our Gaelic games. All the visiting teams and their supporters will receive a fantastic Galway 'Cead Mile Failte', in September"


GAA players and Aer Lingus and Etihad staff member photographed at the launch of the Aer Lingus International Hurling Festival at GAA headquarters, Croke ParkDavid Maher / SPORTSFILE