“It has been a pleasure.”

That’s how Secretary Danny Scullion’s annual report concluded, at the end of five years – his second term in the post.

Scullion was also honoured with a ‘Lifetime Services to GAA’ award at Ulster President Michael Hasson’s awards on Saturday night.

Always the quiet man, working efficiently in the background.

“For the fifth consecutive year I would like to state what a privilege and honour it has been for me to represent the Gaels of Derry and our clubs as Derry County Secretary,” Scullion stated in this report that he will deliver at Monday’s AGM.

Scullion stated there is ‘no getting away’ from Derry senior footballers’ second relegation in as many seasons.

“Both seasons have followed similar patterns with each league campaign seeing Derry finish in the unenviable position of being in the top four in the scores against tally on a national level.

“The 2019 season should see a refocused effort with a strengthened coaching group in addition to availability of playing personnel.

“I would urge everyone to get behind our senior footballers for the incoming season as they bid to provide a more accurate reflection on the true strength of Gaelic football in our county.”

Scullion also hailed the work going on at underage within the county, as Derry appeared in four successive Ulster minor finals.

“Under the management of Mickey Donnelly, our U20s won Derry’s first Ulster title at the U20/U21 grade since 1997,” he added.

“Many of these players are also available at the grade for the 2019 campaign.  I would like to commend Mickey and Chris Collins and all others involved for their work in helping to develop the next wave of players.”

HURLING

Scullion also pointed to the senior hurlers having a ‘frustrating’ campaign before turning towards the championship (Christy Ring).

A narrow defeat in the closing stages was followed by a comfortable win over Armagh.  Then in the crunch tie against Down, Derry grabbed a semi-final slot on score difference.

“The elation of qualifying for the Christy Ring Cup semi-finals was dampened the following week when Derry went down to eventual winners, Kildare at Inniskeen,” Scullion added.

After winning the Ulster U21 in 2017, and suffering a heavy defeat to Kilkenny new structures saw Derry enter the national U21 hurling ’B’ competition.

Wins over Mayo and Meath saw Derry reach an All-Ireland final against Kerry, where they came up second best.

“It was a positive experience for the young players and is a move which should be welcomed for underage hurling,” Scullion outlined.

“So too was the introduction of the Celtic Challenge competition for U17 hurling.  A new national competition with a refocused emphasis on development of players saw Derry win their section in hugely impressive style.

“The competition brought a freshness to the grade with the county’s participation expertly managed by Kevin Kelly and his coaching team.”

Following the campaigns, Collie McGurk stood down as senior and U21 hurling manager.

“I would like to record my sincere thanks to Colm and his team for all their efforts,” Scullion stated.  “In their two years at the helm they have overseen Derry’s restoration to Christy Ring level and had two positive successive U21 campaigns.

“Their work, and that of our minor panel, will bolster Derry intercounty hurling in the coming years.”

Scullion extended his gratitude to Chairman, Brian Smith and all members of the Management Committee and County Committee for their support during 2018.

“John Keenan steps down as Central Council Delegate under the five year rule and I thank him for his help and advice.

“The same rule applies to Liam Peoples regarding his position as an Ulster Council Delegate but as being the sole nominee for the position of Treasurer, it speaks volumes on how he performs that role,” highlighted Scullion of Peoples’ efforts.

Scullion also thanked all club secretaries, the Owenbeg office staff particularly - Pauline McLaughlin and Ashleen McCaul.

“Michael Hasson is extremely efficient and methodical in his role of Insurance Officer and this is much appreciated.”

“The passion for Gaelic games in Derry is on a par with any other County in Ireland.  I think back to 25 years ago when the rest of Ireland realised the same.

“The last five years have convinced me that the same passion remains today.  I am more than confident that the collective work of all Gaels within the county will come to the fore once again.

“From my own point of view, I am grateful to have had the company and friendship of so many people within the county and throughout Ireland during my recent time as secretary.  I wish you all good health as we continue our journey,” he concluded.

Pic: Mary K Burke

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