The Ulster Council could hardly have been served with a bigger bonus as it prepares to host Saturday’s provincial senior football final between Tyrone and Monaghan at Croke Park than the announcement that formal approval for the redevelopment of Casement Park has finally been granted.
A decade has elapsed since the project was first mooted but a series of delays and hiccups in the interim meant that doubts were cast over the refurbishment of the stadium but now that the green light has been given, “it’s full steam ahead” to quote one Ulster official.
And among those who have welcomed the confirmation is new Tyrone skipper Padraig Hampsey, who is still finding his feet in his role.
The Coalisland clubman is strongly focused on leading the Red Hands to their first title in four years and it’s a task the teak-tough defender is looking forward to with immense relish.
“I must admit that I was a little taken aback when the joint managers Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher took me aside and had a conversation with me recently,” recalled Hampsey.
“The next thing I knew was that they were telling me I was to be the new captain. I have to admit that I was thrilled.
“I am very fortunate in that there are a number of very experienced players in the side who have been a great source of encouragement to me.”
With Monaghan in the opposite corner, Hampsey is aware his team will be confronting a side that contains a number of players well versed in Championship warfare.
Yet the memories of Tyrone’s triumph in 2017 remain sufficiently vivid to serve as a huge incentive for Hampsey to try and get his hands on the Anglo-Celt Cup this time round.
“That final in 2017 was a great game and a memorable occasion for Tyrone supporters,” reflected Hampsey.
“I know we will have a smaller crowd on Saturday but there is a great desire here to see the title return. Having been involved in 2017, it was certainly a great feeling as a player to share in Championship success. It would be massive for us if we could win this time out.”
And even though Monaghan have gone through what Hampsey alludes to as “a tough spell” recently following the tragic death of Brendan Óg Duffy, he believes they will nonetheless prove formidable opponents.
“Monaghan are a very positive side and they will be representing a very passionate county. They have all gone through a tough spell and I think that the death of Brendan Óg has united the county more strongly,” insisted Hampsey.
But he is conscious too of the strong bond that binds the Tyrone side and feels this could prove a major factor in bringing success.
“With Tyrone, it’s not just about the starting XV, it’s about the whole squad,” pointed out Hampsey.
“I think the spirit that unites us was certainly highlighted in our two Championship matches to date against Cavan and Donegal.
“The way in which lads like Tiarnan McCann, Conor McKenna, Cathal McShane and Mark Bradley came on and made a big contribution to our wins reflects our sense of purpose and pride.”