THIRTY-FIVE clubs in Tyrone are set to benefit after it was announced that Ulster GAA has been awarded more than £7,000,000 from Sports NI, and an understandably delighted Castlederg secretary Harry Brennan assures that their share of the kitty will be gratefully received.
Tyrone clubs will be allocated a sum total of £1,100,967, and one of the clubs selected for an especially helpful boost to the coffers is Castlederg (only Trillick, Ardboe and Rock St Patrick’s are in line for a larger grant).
The ‘Derg are set to benefit to the tune of £57,985, and it should come as a huge help after what’s been a difficult 12 months due to the pandemic.
Brennan said: “We’re very lucky and extremely happy that we’re getting this grant – mind you it’s not in the bank yet!
“Various steams of income has been impacted, from gate receipts, a monthly draw which had to be suspended and things like that.
“Our treasurer is very clued in with grants, and maybe some other cubs weren’t as aware of how much was in the pot. We’re very grateful and it’s a huge weight off our shoulders.”
In terms of how the money will be used, Brennan says it will help to pay off their outstanding mortgage payments on their facilities.
“When we opened our clubrooms in 2011 we had to get a £150,000 mortgage.
“Everything that we take in on a monthly basis either goes towards our mortgage or our pitch maintenance programme, which is worth its weight in gold but isn’t cheap.”
Brennan hopes that their mortgage will be paid off in roughly 18 months’ time, and it should have a liberating effect on the Division Three club whenever that does come to pass.
“It’s not a grind in itself, but it is hanging over the club in a way. When you’re looking for fresh people to come onto the committee, it’ll be easier to sell when we’re in the black.
“We’ve been in the red since we’ve opened our pitch, and hopefully we’ll be out of the mortgage in another year and a half. When we have a clear bank balance, we’d be able to say to our young people that the club is flourishing.”
Brennan is also conscious of asking too much from the community at a time when the economy is being hit hard by the pandemic.
“GAA clubs are run with the co-operation of their own community, and it’s been a difficult time for many people with redundancies and things like that. You can’t keep on asking people for money, or even to sign up to membership of the club, so we’re very grateful for the grant and it’ll be well-used.”
The upkeep of club facilities isn’t cheap, so Brennan says the St Eugene’s club are also fortunate to be part of a council-funded cross-community project in the town at present as well.
“We’ve got two projects on the go alongside Dergview Soccer Club. We have a three-metre wide tarmac walkway linking with the ‘Derg Castle site.
“It’s opened up at the minute and it’s tidied up our grounds big time. Our training pitch is also being redrained but we have to leave it for a year or so.
“We’re flying on the redevelopment side of things and those projects don’t cost us anything. However, our running costs are around £100,000 a year which was unheard of when I was a youngster kicking a ball around the place.”