Friday night in The Slieve Russell Hotel looks like being the night of the year as The Ulster GAA Writers host their annual awards night. It is always an evening that brings out the great and the good of the Ulster GAA world. Nights such as these are well worth attending and in spite of the number of awards that have to be presented the event usually passes in a flash. The best part of the whole occasion is usually reserved for late into the night when the guests have had one or two too many and the tongues and ties loosen. It is amazing the stories that are told and the interesting snippets of information that can be gleaned from guys who would otherwise remain tight lipped when the press are about but are much less guarded on occasions such as these. Everything from team training methods to players’ superstitions and managers’ idiosyncratic habits on match days is fair game and the night usually lasts well into the early hours of the next day. It is one of the few occasions in the GAA calendar when players, team mentors and journalists get to meet where there is no hidden agenda and most tend to really let the hair down whether they lift an award or not.
Once again Tyrone have been to the fore in the province this year having won Ulster titles in ladies and men’s senior football, as well as All Ireland Titles at minor level in football and Grade C hurling. Of course we also have quite a record of success in Handball, while our Club and County administrators have been leaders in their fields for many years. In such circumstances one would expect the Red Hand County to feature prominently in the list of winners. However the very nature of these nights means that horse trading and politics play as big a part in the final selection as talent. So don’t be too shocked if there are one or two surprise selections on the night.
Mind you that said I would still fancy that the exploits of some of Tyrone’s finest young talent is bound to merit more than just a passing mention from the podium.