Northern Ireland news

Pedro Gomes - Dungannon Clarke's number one fan

Dungannon GAA fan Pedro Gomes has become an internet sensation since the Thomas Clarke's club secured the Tyrone senior title on Sunday. Picture by Hugh Russell

A GAA fanatic whose parents hail from Africa has spoken of his love for the game after his beloved club won a dramatic Tyrone football final.

Pedro Gomes has become an internet sensation since the Thomas Clarke's club in Dungannon secured the county senior title on Sunday.

The 16-year-old, who was born in Portugal, moved with his family to the Co Tyrone town when was five.

Since then he has fallen in love with Gaelic football and the Dungannon club.

Their tense penalty shoot-out win over Trillick at Omagh's Healy Park on Sunday was their first senior title since 1956.

And while criticism of some of the celebrations has since grabbed headlines, Pedro's part in the drama has also brought into focus a club that welcomes all-comers with open arms.

The St Patrick's College student was unable to contain his delight when his heroes crowned a dramatic run to the final with victory last weekend.

“It meant the world to me,” he said.

“Seeing some of the lads celebrating, being happy, made me happy."

Pedro Gomez has been celebrating Dungannon's first senior county title since 1956. Picture by Hugh Russell

When not attending every senior game and training session, Pedro lines out in nets for his club's under-16s and is a corner forward with the minor squad.

“I found football when I was five or six,” he said.

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“My mates asked me to come along for a training session and from that day I stuck at it."

He said he was "greeted with open arms”.

“I have never looked back since.

“It's a big family at Dungannon and everyone is so welcoming.

“I have made a lot of good friends, I have made friends for life playing football.”

And the budding star has his eye on following in the footsteps of his heroes in the coming years.

“I have serious ambition to play for the club seniors,” he said.

As a result of Covid-19 restrictions, only a limited number of people were allowed to attend all-ticket matches in the Tyrone championship.

Despite this, Pedro was determined to support his team.

When the side faced Errigal Ciaran in the semi-final he seized his chance to breach security at Healy Park by grabbing a tray of team sandwiches and carrying them past officials into the ground.

And last weekend he deployed similar tactics when once again he found himself outside the Omagh stadium without a ticket.

When the eagle eyed super-fan spied former Tyrone All-Ireland winner and Dungannon selector Collie Holmes, he grabbed his kit bag and once again managed to dodge Healy Park defences and take his place on the terrace.

Later, when a live stream of the game temporarily went down during the penalty shoot out, the teenager stepped into the breach and began to broadcast the game online after being contacted by a friend.

Dungannon club treasurer Joe Foley said Pedro and other young players from a variety of backgrounds bring “enormous enthusiasm” to the club.

“The GAA is a community organisation and in many cases is the life and soul of the local community and our local community is among the most diverse," he said.

“It's only natural our football club will be equally diverse.”

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