Kieran McGeary artist's impression the centrepiece of a special Championship evening

Peter Canavan holds Niall Laird's masterpiece that will be auctioned off next Wednesday night <br />Picture: Michael Cullen
Peter Canavan holds Niall Laird's masterpiece that will be auctioned off next Wednesday night
Picture: Michael Cullen

NIALL Laird’s stunning masterpiece of Tyrone All-Ireland winner Kieran McGeary will be up for auction at a special GAA Championship talk night at the Glenavon Hotel next Wednesday as part of a series of audacious fundraising events to deliver “first class facilities” at Holy Trinity College, Cookstown.

Joe Brolly, Kieran McGeeney, Feargal Logan and Owen Mulligan are the top table guests at next week’s event – but the artist’s impression of McGeary – who is a teacher at Holy Trinity - will undoubtedly assume centre stage in a one-item auction.

The college formed a Holy Trinity Foundation, recently recognised by the Charity Commission, to build a new school building on the existing site, which will be constructed by Felix O’Hare & Co in work due to commence imminently.

Speaking ahead of the talk night and special auction, Foundation Director and former Tyrone great Peter Canavan is among the school community that wants to build a new school building befitting of its pupils and their families.

“The new build will begin very soon,” confirmed Canavan, a long-time teacher at the college.

“There are currently 1,000 pupils at the school but that will increase to 1,300 after the new site comes to fruition. There is an awful lot of goodwill in the community because they know we’re crying out for a new build because the pupils and the people in this area have been deprived of first class facilities - and that’s going to be brought to an end very soon.”

Canavan, who taught and coached McGeary, added: “The Holy Trinity Foundation has been set up to raise a significant amount of money through community events, such as the one taking place in the Glenavon Hotel next Wednesday night.

“It’s also a chance to recognise the achievements of past pupils and current teacher Kieran McGeary. Not only did he win a GAA Allstar in 2021, he was also Player of the Year.”

Omagh native Laird is renowned for some of his unique artwork involving great Tyrone teams of the past – and Canavan believes his McGeary impression is one of his best pieces yet.

The image, entitled: ‘They said we couldn’t’, captures Kerry’s Tom O’Sullivan trying in vain to wrestle the ball away from the 2021 Player of the Year during last summer’s epic All-Ireland semi-final at Croke Park.

Tyrone went on to beat the Kingdom before winning their fourth All-Ireland crown in the county's history with McGeary playing a hugely influential role in the triumph.

Canavan not only coached McGeary during his school days but was also part of the management team that won the 2015 U21 All-Ireland title, with the Pomeroy man captaining the team.

“We’re fortunate that our intake consists of many talented pupils and for many of them Gaelic Games is a priority,” Canavan explained.

“Apart from Kieran’s talent was his attitude. He took his football very seriously. He was very dedicated. He adapted the mentality that you never stop learning. When you have those traits you will get better, and he’s managed to carry on the success he had at school through county minors, U21s All-Ireland and senior.

“There are obvious leadership qualities there… The difference from school to now was we primarily played Kieran up front in school games where he was the main scorer.

“Now, his fitness and athletic ability lends itself to playing in the half-forward line where he covers a lot of ground – and now he’s making other players look good!

“But, as we witnessed last week against Kerry, he’s also capable of chipping in with scores. He’s matured into a top, all-round player.

“As a teacher he is equally dedicated and his exploits with Tyrone have resulted in him being the perfect role model for his many pupils.”

Next Wednesday’s event at the Glenavon Hotel will be broken into two parts with Brolly, McGeeney, Logan and Mulligan debating the contenders for this year’s provincial and All-Ireland honours before Canavan’s teaching colleague John McKeever will start the bidding for the one-off masterpiece.

For further information about the event, please contact Holy Trinity College, Cookstown 028-86762420