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Damian Gormley wants All-Ireland Masters Trophy recognition

By Declan Bogue

Damian Gormley, the Tyrone captain who lifted the All-Ireland Masters Trophy on Saturday, has called on the GAA at central level to give their support to the competition.

At present, the Over-40s tournament is run under the organisation of the Gaelic Masters' Association, with games hosted by community pitches and players paying for their own insurance. The GAA has effectively disowned the event after granting it patronage in decades gone by.

Gormley, who played for his county between 1994 and 2002, wants that to change. He said: "A lot of the boys that are playing, they are all involved with youngsters, they are coaching senior teams. They are all giving back to the Association.

"To turn back to those guys and say, 'well, actually, if you want to play football, we don't want to know about it' is a bit disingenuous, isn't it?

"We have Masters handball and there is no objection to that, so why not have Masters Gaelic football?

"The rationale seems to be more to do with money than anything else, as far as I can see. Obviously, there is a cost to it - it's not a massive cost - but there is a cost."

For their own insurance, Gormley and team-mates paid a charge of £25 each for the season.

While Masters football at an inter-county level has no support from Croke Park, there is nothing to stop clubs hosting invitational tournaments, such as the Over-35s event played between clubs in Derry.

Gormley explains the appeal of playing long after the flushes of youth have passed. He added: "It's a great feeling when you win together as a group, whether it's Masters football, Under-14 or senior football. That's the competitive nature of football."

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