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Fixture problems top Chairman’s agenda

TYRONE chairperson Mickey Kerr, who was re-elected unopposed for a third term at Tuesday night’s annual convention, says he will work diligently with the clubs to redress the problems with fixtures at the moment.

There was a major gap in the league programme over the summer this year, which was deemed “unsustainable” by fixtures chiefs Adrian Conway and Cathal Daly in their report to convention.

New vice-chairperson Martin Sludden, who challenged and defeated incumbent Eunan Linsay in a dramatic vote , ran on a platform of sorting out the situation once and for all, and Mickey Kerr says the County Board and CCC won’t be found wanting.

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“At our county committee meeting a few months ago we agreed to have a review of our club fixtures with the aim of giving clubs at both adult and youth level a proper schedule of meaningful games. The Tyrone clubs will decide which age grades, odd or even, will play internal club competitions at for 2020.

“Congress will decide in February what the age grades will be for 2021 onwards. The recent policy at national level is odd years and this is expected to come in to rule one month after congress.

“Either way, the onus is on us, as administrators in Tyrone, to provide a proper programme of fixtures spread over a complete season at all grades.

“We will be meeting with club representatives in early January to give details of the 2020 programme and the proposed 2021 structures.”

With that in mind, Kerr also says that the GAA at a national level must also play ball, accusing the association of hindering young players who aspire to play for their counties.

“The recent Central Council decision to bar players from playing for their county U20s until their college or university competition is complete, beggars belief.

“Surely players aspire to play at the highest level they can, which is inter-county, and putting such an obstacle in their way is farcical.

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“The fixtures calendar has seen changes nationally over the last few years, and thankfully club fixtures are now being acknowledged as an integral part of the calendar.”

It was on the whole a measured speech from the Eire Og clubman, but he did issue an appeal for Tyrone people to shop local and resist the temptation to rely solely on online giants.

“Local Sponsorship is important at county level but it’s even more important for club personnel to realise that while it’s fashionable now to do business online with multi-national stores, in rural Tyrone, it’s the local businesses that are the lifeblood of our communities and also our biggest supporters.

“Money is what keeps the wheels in motion and in this county it costs a lot of money to service the vast array of teams, the facilities we provide and also the maintenance of those facilities. In addition to our Club Tyrone funders, I thank most sincerely our sponsors.”

Kerr also extended his best wishes to Joe Hurl, son of Benny, who was elected to the Ulster Council role after five years as coaching officer. Joe is recovering after undergoing surgery at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast on a serious head injury, following a suspected assault in Cookstown in late November.

“I have to give special mention to both Adrian [O’Kane] and Benny [Hurl] who come to the end of their current portfolios tonight and I wish them well as they undertake different roles within our association.

“I know it has been a tough few weeks for Benny and our best wishes for a complete recovery go to your son Joe.”

Kerr also said he hopes that Newtownstewart and Dregish’s recent decision to amalgamate will prove to be a prudent decision for all involved.

“This convention is the last for two great clubs, Dregish Pearses and Newtownstewart St Eugenes. I want to thank both clubs and their members for their contribution to Tyrone GAA. Each community can be proud of its own history and identity and the people who have sustained each club since its foundation. Against this background both clubs are keen to ensure that in combining with each other, nothing of their proud pasts will be lost.

“Their vision for the future is that the whole will be greater than the sum of the parts and that the amalgamated club will provide a morale boost and an enhancement in GAA activity levels throughout the combined catchment area.

“I wish them all the very best in their endeavours for the years to come.”

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