Sports firm, O’Neills is forecasting that the condensed All Ireland series in senior hurling and football will result in a 12 per cent to 15 per cent drop off in the company’s replica county shirt sales this year.
Co-owner of O’Neills, Paul Towell said today that the completion of the men’s All Ireland series with the July staging of the All-Ireland senior hurling and football finals “is not good for business”.
Usually at this time of year, sports retailers are busy selling replica shirts for counties that have made it through to the All-Ireland semi-finals and finals as the hype builds towards the season climax of the September finals.
However, Mr Towell said that the ending of the men’s All-Ireland last month will leave the firm's August’s shirt sales “very badly affected”.
The move by the GAA for the ‘split season’ between county and club was passed unanimously by GAA Congress in February of last year when there was no debate on the issue.
It has come under fire from multi All-Ireland winners and pundits, Pat Spillane and Donal Og Cusack while past GAA Presidents, Nickey Brennan and Sean Kelly have voiced their own concerns over the new All Ireland series timetable.
Mr Towell said: "While the hurling and football championships had some very entertaining games, from a business point of view, it is very difficult to produce and distribute enough jerseys in less than two weeks to meet demand for semi-finals and finals.”
He said with the condensed championship in 2022 “shirt sales would not be as good as other years. There was very little time for hype to build up before the big matches. We estimate that the fall-off in replica sales will be between 12 per cent and 15 per cent this year.”
On the best-selling county replica shirt this year, Mr Towell said that Derry have been the big sellers for 2022.
Mr Towell said he would favour the All-Ireland finals being staged in late August or early September. He said the sales of club jerseys will not in any way make up for the lost county jersey sales.
He said he would not be drawn on the firm's revenues from county replica shirts but did say that county shirt sales “are a very important part and significant part of our business”.
Mr Towell said that he does not believe that the completion of the men’s All Ireland series in July “has been a great success as it is leaving August and September to other sports".
He said: "The GAA is withdrawing from the high profile sporting sphere during that time, where traditionally it held sway in all the media outlets.”
More recently, O'Neills received a sales boost through the Paul Mescal impact on the sales of O’Neills shorts with the company reporting its branded shorts was by far its best-selling product of 2021.
Mr Towell confirmed earlier this year that the €20 Mourne shorts was “by far O’Neill’s best-selling product for 2021 and sales have increased by 30 per cent on last year”.
He said: “The shorts are seen as very trendy now.”
Sales of the shorts increased after they were worn by Paul Mescal on the lock-down global TV hit, Normal People.