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Tight budget need not be any barrier to Tyrone success, says Conway

 

Tight ship: Mark Conway believes that a policy of keeping a tight rein on the purse strings is helping Tyrone to progress at all levels
Tight ship: Mark Conway believes that a policy of keeping a tight rein on the purse strings is helping Tyrone to progress at all levels
John Campbell

By John Campbell

Mark Conway, the driving force behind Club Tyrone, the county's fundraising arm, has poured cold water on the popular theory that huge expenditure is required if teams are to achieve success at the highest level.

It is not unknown for county boards to spend £1million-plus annually in the training and preparation of their county teams at different levels, but Conway refutes the belief that a huge outlay is required if major progress is to be made.

As Tyrone put the finishing touches to their preparations for Sunday week's Ulster Championship preliminary round tie against Derry, the passionately committed Conway is keen to drive home the message that a spend, spend, spend policy is not necessary in the pursuit of meaningful silverware.

"Tyrone run a very, very tight ship in terms of spending on its county teams," insists the Cookstown man.

"In my estimation, there are only about half-a-dozen counties that would spend less than Tyrone.

"We're on a very tight budget. But if you were to add up all the money that comes into Tyrone from the central GAA in Croke Park and from the Ulster Council, it would not cover the cost of our county teams.

"There is this notion that big Championship matches are the body and soul of the GAA and if we lose in those games we do so at our peril.

"That's just not true. It's the counties of Ireland which subsidise the GAA rather than the other way round.

"All the millions that are generated by the GAA come from the people of Tyrone, the people from Mayo, from Kerry and all the other counties.

"This money is coming out of the rest of Ireland and going into Croke Park in the first place."

Conway, whose foresight and vision were also instrumental in seeing the Garvaghey Centre of Excellence established as one of the premier sporting headquarters in the country, also rebukes the belief that 'hand-outs' are obtainable on demand.

"A lot of people think there is a machine down there at Croke Park that somehow makes money which is then handed out to the rest of us - this is just not true either," he adds.

And he makes no bones about just why Tyrone continues to deliver success at different levels on a limited budget.

"The fact of the matter is that we have very good people running our county teams in different codes," he explains.

"I admit maybe that I am biased in this connection but Mickey Harte, for instance, does not believe in the warm weather training or anything like that. He makes savings wherever he can. If Mickey needs to take his team away in this country for a weekend, that is funded without question.

"But the fact of the matter is that the way our county teams are run at all levels undoubtedly plays a big part in helping us to keep a rein on our expenses. These people are not extravagant, they are far from it."

With the Connacht Council about to embark on a proposed indoor sporting dome capable of hosting inter-county matches, Tyrone's lead in completing their state of the art Garvaghey Centre has and is being followed.

"We're very proud of the Garvaghey Centre because it's doing everything it was planned to do," points out a proud Conway.

"That's the beauty of it from our perspective. We had hoped by year five to have 25,000 users availing of the facility - imagine our surprise when in the first year we had 50,000 users. You would have to say that's an average of one thousand people a week."

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