By Niall Gartland
TYRONE joint-manager Brian Dooher has hailed the ‘pure honesty of effort’ from Niall Sludden, who has taken the big decision to call time on his intercounty career.
Sludden has been one of the leading lights in Tyrone football for many years, winning back-to-back Ulster titles in 2016 and 2017 and playing a considerable role in the county’s surge to All-Ireland honours in 2021, for which he deservedly won an All-Star.
He first came to prominence as a star in the making as an integral part of the Tyrone minor side that won All-Ireland honours in 2010, and in total he made 116 appearances at senior level, scoring an impressive 7-92 in the process.
The Dromore man recently informed the Tyrone management team that he was bringing the curtain down on his intercounty career, and joint-manager Brian Dooher has paid a glowing tribute to a hugely dedicated and talented player.
Speaking ahead of last night’s McKenna Cup second round match against Armagh, Dooher said: “Niall has been pivotal to Tyrone football for the past ten years or more.
“It’s disappointing to see him go, he mulled it over for a long time and it’s not an easy decision to make.
“All I can say is that we’re glad to have had him, and we wish we still had him in all honesty.”
He continued: “The thing about Niall was the real honest effort you got from him every day he went out. That’s the big thing about Niall Sludden, the pure honesty of effort no matter what. He was a great lad to work with, had a great work-rate and he was a great person to have around the group.
“We wish him all the best with the club for the next few years and I can’t speak highly enough of him. He will be a loss and there’s other boys who will just have to step up to the mantle.”
Sludden had to bide his time in the early stages of the first year of Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher’s management in 2021.
He didn’t start any of their five league games but he knuckled down, worked his way into the starting line-up, and the rest, as they say, is history.
He was a mainstay of the starting line-up in that year’s championship and contributed two points from play in a stellar performance in the All-Ireland final against Mayo. And to cap it all off, he crowned the year by landing O’Neill Cup honours with his club Dromore.
Dooher said: “Niall added a lot of value to our team and you saw the year he had in 2021. He didn’t start but he put the head down and worked hard and worked his way back into the team.
“Once he got his chance he never looked back.
“He won an All-Ireland, he won an All-Star and a county championship with Dromore. He has been a great lad to work with both as a person and as a footballer.”