Gormley slams GAA for attitude to Masters
Damian Gormley, who captained the Tyrone Masters team to All-Ireland success last year, has accused the GAA of discrimination on the grounds of age.
Tyrone defend their title, won last November against Galway, when they face Mayo in tomorrow's All-Ireland semi-final, hosted by the St John's club in Sligo (throw-in 1.30pm).
However the over-40s tournament exists in a sporting limbo after the GAA effectively disowned it in 2009, citing insurance costs.
It now relies on sympathetic clubs hosting games or else playing on council pitches, but that has not stopped the competition from flourishing with Tyrone players taking out their own personal insurance policies.
However, Gormley - who spent several years lining out for the Tyrone senior team alongside the likes of Peter Canavan and Chris Lawn, both of whom he has played Masters with too - can't help but feel let down by the GAA's refusal to endorse their level of football.
"Fundamentally, it appears to be the case that there is a bit of age discrimination going on," says the Trillick man.
"The reality of the thing is that the boys get on with the game as it is at the moment. Our back-up is very light. But people know the risks that anybody has when they go out to play a game of football or a sport that is a contact sport with an injury risk."
Managed by Joe Leonard and Eugene Bradley, Tyrone lost this year's captain Stevie Dooher to injury after he had an industrial accident last week.
However, they have strengthened their playing resources significantly this year.
Drumquin's Liam Patterson still plays senior football for his club, while this season their centre-back Eunan McAnespie lined out in the senior championship for 2015 champions Trillick against eventual winners Killyclogher.
"Our argument comes with Eunan McAnespie and Liam Patterson, both of whom were playing senior football this year," Gormley points out.
"Eunan was playing for Trillick, a team that won the senior championship, so he is not playing at any low level.
"If he can go out and play for a club at senior level and be insured, why can he not go and play at his own age and be insured?"
Even with all the hardship that it entails, Gormley points out his desire to kick wearing the white and red of his county after participating in a series of Ironman events.
"I came back and realised that you can't beat a team sport, the craic you have in the changing rooms, kicking points and putting tackles in," he said.