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1960–1970 A Dismal Decade

All-Ireland Vocational Schools’ Champions, 1967, 1969

What followed instead was an unexpected and prolonged period of stagnation and torpor. In the overall context of the history of Tyrone GAA to that point, the record of achievement in the 1960s was creditable enough, with an Ulster minor title in 1967, the All-Ireland Vocational Schools’ championship in the same year, and again in 1969, and the All-Ireland junior championship of 1968. But set against the optimism generated by the Ulster senior successes of the 1950s, it was a dismal decade. Tyrone could only look on with envy at Down, who had become the first team from north of the border to make an impact nationally with three magnificent All-Ireland victories in the 1960s.

That said, important developments were taking place behind the scenes which would help the Association face the challenges of the second half of the twentieth century and secure the future of the GAA in Tyrone. The club scene continued to attract the significant interest of GAA supporters in Tyrone. New playing pitches and facilities abounded throughout the county. And perhaps most importantly, a major administrative reform of the Association’s governing structures took place following the recommendations of a Commission in 1967 to review all aspects of the administration of Tyrone GAA.

Perhaps it was the failure to make any impact at inter-county level in the 1960s that made such a Commission necessary. There was also a sense that the rivalry that existed between separate administrative structures in the east and west of the county was not conducive to good administration, and that the structures that had been put in place for an association struggling for survival were no longer appropriate for a growing organisation. Though some of the Commission’s key recommendations were initially rejected, by the time a second Commission reported in 1973, most of the ideas they had proposed were implemented. Most importantly, the authority of the central County Board was increased, and a single football league structure for the county was established.