A MURAL depicting three of Cookstown’s footballing heroes was unveiled yesterday (Monday).
Aaron Hughes, Stuart Dallas and Raymond McCoy, all of whom have been capped by Northern Ireland, are being honoured for the distinction they’ve brought the town and district over the years.
It comes at a fitting time as Northern Irish great Aaron Hughes has called time on his glittering career.
Hughes has had the most international appearances of the trio with 112, Stuart Dallas boasts 36, and Raymond McCoy has one.
Cookstown North Community carried out the work with support from Sperrin Cultural Awareness.
The mural has been erected in the Millburn Park area of the town.
Work on the project began during the Easter break.
“We in Cookstown North Community Group like to make a difference to people and the place we live,” said a group spokesperson.
“During a walk round the estate with the Housing Executive and Keith Buchanan MLA back in January the idea came about to put something on the wall to try and prevent unsightly graffiti.
“That idea is now going to be a reality with the support of all three players and Sperrin Cultural Awareness, Magherafelt.
“We would like to thank all those involved with this project and like to see it being completed to add a feature to the area instead of graffiti. We think it is only right that these three individuals that have given so much to sport and are from Cookstown deserve to be recognised where they were brought up in some small way.
“We in Cookstown North are doing this small gesture in recognition of them.”
Sperrin Cultural Awareness Association (SCAA) was established in 2007 and has worked to empower disaffected communities, raise mutual understanding of cultural traditions, engage with marginalised young people and develop communities.
“On consultation with Keith Buchanan MLA and Cookstown North Community Group we were delighted to offer assistance and resource to this project,” a SCAA spokesperson said.
“The connection between local players and the community is duly recognised and this project will add value to the legacy of their great achievements.”
Meanwhile, Aaron Hughes who was unable to make the unveiling, has spoken fondly of the freedom retirement affords him.
“I wanted to take a few months to literally do nothing,” he said.
“I have barely looked at a pre-season football result at all because my mind is switched off from it - I just want to take a break.
“I want to get away with the kids on holiday for a few weeks before they go back to school and, for now, I'm not worried too much about what's next.
“There are a few things that I have an interest in or might want to try my hand at, but for now I just want to enjoy my free time.”