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Roisin Jordan never thought she'd hit these heady heights

By John Campbell

Roisin Jordan never quite envisaged that one day she would occupy the top GAA post in Tyrone. When she became secretary of the Eglish club some two decades ago, she anticipated that this would be her sole role.

But a fusion of enthusiasm, efficiency and commitment saw her quickly ascend the administrative ladder, becoming chairperson of the county Competitions Control Committee, then vice-chairperson of the county board and now chairperson.

And as the first lady to hold the top position in any county, she is determined to stamp her imprimatur on her term in office - but women's lib will be far from her agenda.

"As I see it, my three main goals are to ensure that the amateur ethos of the Association is protected within my county, to see youthful talent nurtured and to do everything possible from my perspective to help bring the Sam Maguire Cup back for a fourth time," declares Jordan.

Steeped in the GAA since birth, she is passionate in relation to the volunteer aspect of the country's biggest sporting body and believes that it should be more widely acknowledged.

"I honestly believe that the GAA is particularly fortunate to have the calibre of people that it possesses to work at all levels day in and day out and never ever seek any form of payment for what they do," insists the new Tyrone supremo.

"In my own club of Eglish we have a man named Sean Donaghy who has given 53 years of unbroken service in a voluntary capacity.

"I have no doubt that many, many clubs have an equivalent figure of Sean in their ranks."

And in a defiant reference to the non-payment of players, she adds: "I think that the volunteer ethic should embrace everyone who is part of the GAA.

"I recognise that some officials at the highest level are paid and I also know that ancillary staff who are part of county management back-up teams are rewarded for their services but they are professionals - to my mind, our players must always be governed by the amateur code.

"This, after all, is our greatest strength as an Association as I see it and it is something which I personally value greatly and will always do."

The emergence of a fresh raft of talent at county level is particularly pleasing to the new chairperson who believes that the "transition period" is now all but complete.

"Our manager Mickey Harte has been working hard at restructuring his side and obviously it was always going to be difficult to replace such legendary figures as Peter Canavan, Stephen O'Neill, Brian McGuigan, Brian Dooher, Ryan McMenamin, Philip Jordan and others who have retired in recent times but there is a really exciting mix of new faces in vogue now and they offer us great encouragement for the future," states Jordan.

And she is in no doubt that Sean Cavanagh can provide the inspiration and leadership that the team will require in 2015.

"I cannot think of a better ambassador for the GAA than Sean. He is the ideal role model for young aspiring players and I believe he will have a tremendous influence within the Tyrone team next year," insists Jordan.

"Three All-Ireland title triumphs between 2003 and 2008 meant that very high standards were set in Tyrone and this is obviously a challenge to the teams that will now represent the county on an ongoing basis.

"But it is a challenge that I think can be met head on in 2015. I know there is an overwhelming thirst within the county to see the All-Ireland title brought back but we have to, however, take on board the fact that other counties have moved on.

"Nevertheless, pride and hunger are great motivating forces and I have no doubt that, given the breaks, Tyrone can scale the heights once again.

"To my mind the future is indeed bright but we must never waver in our commitment to the cause."

UUJ have been handed a difficult task against Dublin City University in the first round of the forthcoming Sigerson Cup competition.

The Jordanstown side have not quite been at full-strength this year but will require to have all their big guns on board if they are to see off the challenge of a DCU side which won the Ryan Cup by beating St Mary's University College last week.

St Mary's will now meet either NUI Galway or IT Blanchardstown in their Sigerson opener while Queen's face a tricky assignment against IT Sligo.

Belfast Telegraph

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