Garvaghey Performance Hub on course for spring opening

TYRONE’S new Performance Hub is due to open at Garvaghey in the springtime of 2020, but disappointment has been expressed at the failure of GAA and of government to provide financial support for the project.

Club Tyrone has undertaken the task of generating the necessary funds, but has had to make up a big shortfall, due to the reluctance of others to assist with the scheme.

“The Hub will cost over £400,000 and it remains very disappointing that the GAA at national or provincial levels has not responded to our requests for funding support,” said Club Tyrone chairman Mark Conway.

“It is equally disappointing that, beyond a greatly appreciated grant offer of £20,000 from the Fermanagh and Omagh Council, ‘civic society/ government’ here has yet again failed to engage.

“In those dispiriting contexts, we put in place a Hub Patrons scheme, largely modelled on our previous and hugely successful Garvaghey Patrons model. Hub Patrons gift £5,000 to the Hub project and from a standing start in May 2019 we reach the year end closing in on a target of 100 Patrons.”

Conway thanked those who have generously responded to the fund-raising effort.

“Yet again business, community and Gaelic Tyrone have stood up unflinchingly to the plate. Tyrone is blessed to have these special, visionary and generous people. Our Committee’s overall Work-Plan for 2019 was presented to and approved by the County Committee at the start of the year.”

It was then delivered on as follows:

• Oversaw and managed Club Tyrone Members’, Garvaghey Patrons’, Dragain Thír Eoghain and Hub Patrons’ contributions and developed a digital display system to acknowledge same

• Achieved a ‘gift aid’ tax repayment of just over £12,000 from HMRC

• Delivered via our New York colleagues, and with good inputs from ‘home’, a third annual Golf Day at the Hudson National in New York and an event in Rockland GAA

• Established via Tyrone Gaels in that city a Club Tyrone Hub in Philadelphia

• Produced and circulated to every school in Tyrone 20,000 copies of the Red Hand Fanzine and developed and delivered a digital online version

• Hosted the Annual Club Tyrone Members’ Night in May, attended by 200 Patrons, Members and friends

• Supported the now-annual ‘Meet the Players’ event after the Galway Allianz League game in March • Hosted, at Garvaghey, a first-ever Nollaig na mBan event (6 January), a St Brigid’s Cross making workshop (31 January) and a workshop on ‘Rural GAA’ (30 March) which attracted widespread national coverage 62 • Contributed to Tyrone GAA’s Red Hand View match programmes

• Published the 2018 Club Tyrone Annual Report and circulated it to Members, Patrons and others (Support for several of the events above by the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council is gratefully acknowledged.)

“Our primary focus this year was to scope and roll out a funding model for Tyrone’s new Performance Hub at Garvaghey,” said Conway.”

And he revealed that Club Tyrone, which was established in 1995, has now raised almost £6m for the activities of the GAA in the county.

“Club Tyrone’s contribution to Tyrone GAA is now approaching an amazing £6m. Everyone involved in that should be very proud of it.

“The past year has been one of our most successful ever, with, at the time of writing, an income of some £350,000 (TBC) generated.

“That’s a remarkable testament to our Committee and has been achieved on the back of days, weeks and months of hard, focused, grafting work.

“The people who invest in Club Tyrone also graft hard for the money they give us and that’s why we treat them, and their donations, with total respect.”

Conway also expressed disappointment at the lack of support for a Tyrone club/ county draw.

“We remain disappointed that, following our drafting of a model for a possible Tyrone Club/ County Draw some time ago, this vital initiative has not been progressed.

“During the year we were delighted to attend ‘brother/ sister County GAA events’ in Antrim (Saffron Business Forum) and Derry (Club Derry Golf Classic) and we also met to talk business with fellow Gaels from Cork, Mayo, Monaghan and Scotland.

“Beyond the Bushes’ Our strong Club Tyrone presence in New York continued in 2019 and our team there now have a very attractive and effective annual Golf Day funding event in place.

“Setting up a Club Tyrone Philadelphia was another important milestone in 2019 and we now have a growing structural presence on the United States’ eastern seaboard.

“Yet again it needs to be pointed out how that all happens solely because our Tyrone people out there work so hard to make it happen. It’s not gifted from home. The New York and Philadelphia people’s loyalty to Tyrone and home is unshakeable.”

He added: “Looking to 2020 and Beyond In early 2020 we plan to keep promoting our Hub Patrons model. The Hub building will be completed next spring which means our fundraising window has about another three months to run.

“We need to make full use of that time and equally to maintain our emphasis and focus on what is our core business – managing and developing Club Tyrone’s unique planned giving model. It’s something that’s very precious and remains the envy of most others outside Tyrone.

“Other counties continue to come to talk to us about it. As each year goes by the issue of succession become more and more critical. As a group and an initiative, we have now been in place for a quarter of a century. It’s been a remarkable time for us and for Tyrone.

“But renewal is always necessary, and Club Tyrone is no different. Tyrone needs new people to carry on that hard, grafting work and new people to join up with Club Tyrone. Those are challenges for us all. And Tyrone is depending on us meeting them.

“Club Tyrone does not happen by accident. Nor did our great levels of achievement in 2019. We delivered those because we have a county and people in it who know and appreciate what the GAA is and who are therefore very willing to support it so selflessly.

“And a great strength for us all is our placing fully within Tyrone’s GAA governance structure and systems so that accountabilities and responsibilities are clear and unequivocal.

“Ultimately what we achieve in Club Tyrone is down to a PR and Marketing Committee that’s made up of talented, selfless and totally committed people who just want to see Tyrone GAA do well and who will do whatever’s needed to help make that happen.

“And that means continuous, hard, focused, grafting work. Our Committee is a gift to Tyrone and few others in life have the privilege of working with such people. It’s one I certainly am very thankful for.”

In his annual report, Conway paid a glowing tribute to the late John Mulgrew, one of the driving forces behind the establishment of Club Tyrone and the construction of the Garvaghey Centre.

“On 9 March this year we lost our friend, colleague, mentor and inspiration, John Mulgrew. John’s contribution to Tyrone GAA, and much, much else over several decades was immense.

“Club Tyrone and Garvaghey are just two of his legacies to Tyrone. It will not be possible to replace this remarkable man.

“The chair that John always sat in at our meetings is kept vacant when we meet.”

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