Northern Ireland news

Sam Maguire Cup arrives in Tyrone for a tour of county's primary schools

Pupils from St Marys PS Pomeroy show their support for one of their teacher Mark Bradley ahead of the All Ireland game. Picture by Hugh Russell
Francis Mooney

THE Sam Maguire Cup has arrived in Tyrone for a tour of the county's primary schools.

The victorious Red Hand side was unable to bring the trophy home following last month's All-Ireland triumph due to Covid-19 restrictions.

But it has been released by Croke Park, and its movements will be carefully managed over the coming weeks.

Players will accompany the cup on its visits to every school in the county, but it will not be available for appearances at other events or social occasions.

"We're starting with those that haven't seen it before, in the primary schools, and that should create great excitement, with players visiting the various schools around the county," Tyrone county chairman Michael Kerr said.

"It will take us at least four weeks to get around all the primary schools, and then we hope to visit secondary schools, so hopefully all will be completed before the Halloween break.

"These youngsters are the Tyrone stars of the future, and to see the players and the Sam Maguire Cup coming to visit them will inspire them to pursue their dream.

"These children haven't seen it before. In fact the current players who won the All-Ireland for Tyrone this year were schoolchildren when the Sam Maguire Cup was won back in the noughties and were inspired by the feats of those great men."

GAA administrator Cuthbert Donnelly was Sam's guardian and constant travelling companion when Tyrone won their previous All-Irelands in 2003, 2005 and 2008, and will perform the role again this year.

However, managers Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher have already turned their attentions to a concerted bid to retain the title next year.

"There's 31 other counties and there's a target on the back of the reigning All-Ireland champions," Mr Kerr said.

"We don't know what the format will be in 2022, whether the qualifiers will be back or whether it will be straight knock-out again.

"So it could be like an All-Ireland final every day you go out, and you're there to be taken out.

"With Ulster being so competitive, you could be beaten on any day out."

In the meantime, the Tyrone SFC, the most competitive in Ulster, gets under way tomorrow.

The county chairman said: "Everybody has an opportunity to see these players gracing the pitch in their own clubs.

"While we borrowed them as a county over the past four or five months to win Sam, they're now back in their homes, to play with those that they grew up with and have ploughed many a furrow with.

"This is where the bread and butter starts now, with the club championship, and we're looking forward to some great battles. If it's half as good as it was last year, it will be a great, great season of championship football.

"We have already had some great games in the Junior and Intermediate Championship, and we're looking forward to more of the same over the next number of weeks."

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