Sludden praises volunteerism of Tyrone intercounty football managers

By Niall Gartland

COUNTY chairperson Martin Sludden has expressed his gratitude to Tyrone’s inter-county football managers for their genuinely held sense of volunteerism in his address to the convention on Tuesday night.

Debate on the subject of intercounty costs, particularly in relation to management teams, has ramped up in recent weeks following the publication of financial reports in Louth and Meath.

Tyrone spent a total of £856,442 on their county teams in 2023 (by contrast it came to a sum total of £904,751 in 2022 albeit there was a team holiday).

The financial report breaks down the costs into sub-sections – medical, accommodation, buses, meals and so on – and there’s no doubt that looking after county teams is a serious undertaking these days.

With that in mind, chairperson Martin Sludden expressed thanks to Feargal Logan, Brian Dooher and underage managers Paul Devlin and Gerard Donnelly for their selfless efforts targeted towards the betterment of Tyrone GAA.

“I can’t go without mentioning Fergal, Brian, Paul and Gerard. Not a penny do they ask for. How many counties can say that? All four have been returned for new three-year terms. I would like to wish them well and you can be reassured they will receive the full support of Tyrone GAA.”

This year marked the installation of new floodlights at O’Neill’s Healy Park and next in the pipeline is a new lighting system at the redeveloped O’Neill Park Grounds at Dungannon.

Sludden said: “One of the highlights of this year was the installation of the new floodlights in O’Neill’s Healy Park. An investment of £225,000 has been made into the project and we can all see the difference this has made. Thank you to Niall McKenna and Rory O’Brien for delivering this project.

“Our next project is the lights at Dungannon Clarkes, at a projected cost of over £300,000. Again, Niall and Rory will lead the project along with the officers of Dungannon Clarkes.

Meanwhile, the Tyrone Senior Management team are “broadly open” to the idea of permitting players not named on their match-day panels to play club football that weekend. Omagh St Enda’s put forward a recommendation on the matter at this year’s convention and it will now be referred to the Tyrone CCC following a hearty discussion on the matter on Tuesday evening in Garvaghey.

There are two elements to the recommendation. Part ‘A’ states that ‘any current Senior Intercounty Football squad player not named on county match-day panel on any weekend of a county game, shall be eligible to play club football that weekend.’

Part ‘B’ states that ‘Every footballer on the Tyrone Senior Football panel, as named in the report to the County Committee meeting in March, shall be ineligble for all starred games in the ACL, unless they become eligible through ‘A’ above.”

A number of delegates spoke on the evening expressing their broad support for non-match day panellists being permitted to play for their club that weekend. However, three prominent club officials harboured concerns about the second element, believing that it would leave intercounty players feeling compelled into staying on the intercounty panel even if they wish to leave.

The County Board was asked whether there had been engagement with Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher on the issue, and Conor Sally, who was sitting as Ulster GAA representative at the top table, said that there had been discussion and that the Tyrone management were broadly supportive of the idea.

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