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Dessie Slater Stand, A Fitting Tribute To A Great Man
I was delighted to hear that Dungannon Clarkes club was intending to honour one of its greatest servants the late Dessie Slater by naming the stand at O’Neill Park after him. In this year when Club Tyrone will honour the Tyrone team of 1986 by hosting a special evening of tribute to the players and management of that team, it is fitting that such a great gael as Dessie is recognised and remembered by his club.
We often hear of men involved with the GAA being described as great club men, modest and salt of the earth type people. In truth there are many members in clubs up and down the country who are just like that and the GAA as a unit would not function without them. Dessie Slater was such a man but he was much more than that. He was a Clarkes man of course, but he was Dungannon through and through and one of the most down to earth and obliging people you would ever have met.
I first came across Dessie many years ago when he played on a Clarkes side along with my late brother Sean but got to know him much better when he became a familiar figure on the refereeing scene. Dessie would have booked me lots of times and sent me off a few times as well but he was never a man to make a song or dance or a fuss about such things. He was a great character and when he got involved with the Tyrone backroom team under Art Mac Rory he became very quickly accepted by all the players. Such was his easy going manner that even when he made a wrong decision in a training match you could hardly complain about it. But complain we did although it never bothered Dessie because he was doing what he enjoyed the most being part of the Association and giving something back to a game he loved. Having a stand named after him would probably have left this very modest man deeply embarrassed but it is a fitting tribute to a man I considered a real friend and great character.