30/10/2002

Stormont welcome for GAA football champions

Marking the All-Ireland title wins of Armagh senior and Derry minor Gaelic football teams the Secretary of State, Paul Murphy, hosted a reception at Parliament Buildings, Stormont.

Welcoming both teams and supporters to Stormont, Mr Murphy described their achievements as "remarkable and historic" with an unusual double championship victory for the same Province.

He underscored the increasingly important role of sport in modern society: “Sport is an activity which can stir the emotions like few others and, when local teams are representing their communities in major competitions, it is a source of great pride for the whole area. I know that the people of Armagh and Derry are tremendously proud of their teams, and rightly so.”

Mr Murphy paid special tribute to the Armagh Senior and Derry Minor captains, Kieran McGeeney and Gerard O’Kane, for "setting a terrific example of the importance of focusing on an objective and inspiring others to work for its achievement".

The victorious Armagh team who took the Sam Maguire Cup to Stormont have also had nine players nominated for the All-Stars line-up. The nine are Ronan Clarke, Diarmaid Marsden, Oisin McConville, Stephen McDonnell, John McEntee, Kieran McGeeney, Paul McGrane, Enda McNulty, and Aidan O'Rourke.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Policing Board has wished the PSNI GAA team "good luck" as they take the field for the first challenge match with An Garda Síochána.

In the run up to the GAA match, Professor Desmond Rea, said: “I would like to wish the team success in this their first official match. I know that over the last weeks there has been a lot of intensive training to prepare the team and to finalise the game plan. The players and the coaches have undoubtedly put in a lot of effort and I hope the hard work pays off with a win!"

Professor Rea hailed the match as "historic" as it demonstrated the "commitment of the PSNI to promoting a neutral environment, diversity and equality for all.”

The match follows on from the GAA’s abolition of Rule 21 which had prevented British security forces personnel from taking part in games.

(SP)

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