The Tyrone GAA board is to step up its efforts to find a new sponsor for its county teams now that Target Express has ceased trading.
The Fermanagh-based company had been Tyrone’s main sponsor since 2009; the six-figure deal into which they had entered proved a lucrative bonanza for the Red Hand county.
The deal was due to expire at the end of this year and Tyrone officials had already set the wheels in motion in terms of trying to find a new sponsor before yesterday’s shock announcement that the company is closing its doors.
“Obviously this is a blow to Tyrone GAA but it is an even bigger blow to those from our county and from Fermanagh who worked for the company. Our thoughts are with them right now and the loss of some four hundred jobs is certainly a big blow to the economy of the west of the province,” says Tyrone PRO Damien Harvey.
Tyrone already have a robust marketing strategy in place and hopes are high that a new sponsorship deal will be secured before the end of the year.
“We are very grateful to Target Express for all they have done for the Tyrone GAA. Our county teams at all levels have benefited from their generosity and it is certainly a matter of regret that the company is closing because of the impact this will have on so many families,” adds Harvey.
“We are in recessionary times but this is a major blow to the population in this part of the world.”
The Tyrone board of course has been engaged for some time in securing funding for the impressive Centre of Excellence which is raopidly taking shape at Garvaghey on the main Ballygawley-Omagh road.
“We would hope that this project will be completed within the next eight weeks. A lot of work has gone into it and it will become the nerve centre for the GAA in the county. Obviously, it is a costly venture but we are continuing our drive for funding,” reveals Harvey.
The Centre of Excellence will incorporate five full-scale grass pitches, a 3G training area, administrative offices, ancillary facilities and a 200-seater auditorium.
“There is a great sense of anticipation in relation to the opening of this centre and obviously all levels of the GAA in our county will benefit from the facilities there,” says Harvey.
It is expected that the Centre of Excellence will prove of particular value to the Ulster Colleges’ Council.
For some years now, colleges’ officials have been forced to request the use of club pitches for games and given the severity of some recent winters, it is understandable why some clubs have been reluctant to make their pitches available.
But the completion of the Centre of Excellence means that the sand-carpet pitches there should be playable even in the worst of weather.
“The Ulster Colleges Council will surely benefit from the use of the pitches and hopefully this will help to further streamline fixtures programmes,” adds PRO Harvey.