The Tyrone County Committee have agreed to the establishment of a new club Naomh Eoghan, following the merger of Dregish Pearse Ogs and Newtownstewart St Eugene’s.
The County Management Committee gave the proposal the green light and and this was officially endorsed by the County Committee delegates at their monthly meeting held on Tuesday night past.
There has been talk for over a decade of the Dregish club disbanding due to lack of numbers but club members have remained steadfast. However the discussions between the two clubs have been ongoing for almost two years.
The present day Newtownstewart club has been in existence since 1945 but the club can trace its roots away back to around 1907 whilst the Dregish club was founded in 1968 but can show periods of activity dating back to the 1930’s. They won the Junior Championship in 1951, 1995, 2009 and lately in 2018.
Dregish have been to the top in Tyrone football away back in 1985 finishing runners up in the Division 2 League and won Junior Championship titles in 1970, 1976, 1983 and 2001.
After rumours circulated last week that the Pearse Ogs had been disbanded, well respected Strabane Sigersons club official Aodhán Harkin was asked along to get a briefing on the new merger on Monday night and he said he was very impressed at the manner in which it actually came about, and the direction forward that is envisaged for the new club.
“I met with prominent members of Newtownstewart and Dregish clubs whom I have known for many years who are passionate Gaels attempting to do the best for their local communities.
“The merger is all about keeping the GAA alive and vibrant in the adjacent historic parishes of Ardstraw East (Newtownstewart) and Ardstraw West (Dregish) of which Eoghan is the patron Saint so that’s where the name to call the new amalgamation derived from as it has strong bonds in both parishes.
“There are many reasons for the demise of GAA clubs and in particular in rural communities whereby the closure and merger of Primary Schools a has a major bearing on the sustainability of a club. This no doubt played a major part on this occasion and indeed is the much smaller family units compared to years ago.
“The establishment of Naomh Eoghan is a brave and courageous step forward by the Gaels of Newtownstewart and Dregish and is to be applauded and supported as they look forward at the long-term sustainability of Gaelic games in this proud part of North Tyrone. I have no doubt that other clubs in a similar position are looking on with interest so don’t be in the least bit surprised if you hear of other such mergers down the line.
“I wish Naomh Eoghan every success in the years ahead, they have shown great vision to reach this point and are to be commended for their bravery and foresight,” stated Aódhan Harkin in a statement he issued on behalf of both Clubs.
The decision by Newtownstewart and Dregish to amalgamate is nothing new in Tyrone GAA circles. In the late 1990’s Dunamanagh and Aughabrack came together and formed Clann na nGael and something similar also happened in 1990 when Ballygawley St Ciarán’s were merged into what is nowadays known as Errigal Ciarán.
It’s envisaged that both club grounds at Páirc Naomh Eoghain (Newtownstewart) and Fr McCrory Park (Dregish) will both be fully utilised and become shared facilities as the Naomh Eoghan club intend to promote Gaelic games and activities across the board at male and female levels.
The coming weeks will see many more meetings occur with an Annual General Meeting currently being planned as are other important matters in respect of club colours, crests and other matters.