Banquet 2003

According to most reports, this was one of the best, if not the best, banquets held by the Ulster GAA Writers’ Association. A packed attendance of around 660 enjoyed most aspects of the occasion.

Much of the praise for this must be given to our sponsors who look after us so well. Our main backers, Tennents Ireland through the hard work and great interest of Brian Houston do a fantastic job. Belleek Pottery and Galway Crystal, Bank of Ireland, First Trust Bank, ProStar Sport and our ballot sponsors deserve our greatest thanks.

So, too, do the staff of the Great Northern Hotel, headed by General Manager Philip McGlynn, and, of course, with Director Brian McEniff hovering in the shadows. Dealing with the Great Northern staff is a pleasure and makes our organising job so much simpler.


The schedule for the night ran extremely smoothly thanks in no small measure to the handling of the occasion by our Fear A Ti Adrian Logan. The timing of the event was strictly adhered to. The filming of the night’s action was well done by Brian McVeigh and by Brian Hunt and his colleagues from Sligo.


The selected meal was served with the usual Great Northern efficiency and the food was accepted generally with no complaints made to our organising committee.


The absence of a cabaret artist seemed to add to the occasion as it meant a smoother running and no long drawn out gaps. Neither did the absence of background music, e.g. The Scouts Band, take anything from the night’s enjoyment. The James Peake Experience – the dance music – was met with mixed feelings. Many enjoyed the music but others left shortly after the band began. The biggest complaint was the loudness of the music.


Once again the Ballot, in terms of money raised for charity, was a huge success. We handed over £3,700 to Sperrinview Special Care School, Dungannon – the biggest donation from our banquet ever.


The ladies’ gifts presented by Galway Crystal were of excellent value while the gifts presented to the top table guests by Belleek Pottery were superb. The men’s gifts, compliments of First Trust Bank, were also well received.

Annual Awards:

Belleek Pottery, Bank of Ireland and ProStar Sport combined, once again, to very well reward our 10 annual winners. The winners were all very well accepted by the public in general and also those in the running for awards.

Highlights Video:

Thanks are due to Mark Sidebottom and Margaret O’Hare for providing an excellent highlights video of the 2003 action. It was sharp, concise and to the point with football, hurling, camogie and handball all included.


For once, the great majority of invitations were answered by the specified date but a few high profile people still ignored the deadline. One of our monthly award winners completely ignored the invitation. Generally, our list of invitees works OK but, maybe, we should take a look at it in future. It was highly disappointing that President Sean Kelly ignored three letters from me and then, after telling Adrian Logan that he would be attending, finally pulled out. At that stage accommodation, etc. had been arranged for him.


All in all, a very good occasion and thanks is due to everyone who contributed to making the 2003 banquet such a success.