Sporting legends help Dungannon Enterprise Centre celebrate 25 years

Stars at Hill of the O'Neill, in Dungannon to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Dungannon Enterprise Centre.' Picture Oliver McVeigh
Stars at Hill of the O'Neill, in Dungannon to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Dungannon Enterprise Centre.' Picture Oliver McVeigh

Dungannon was awash with sport stars last week, as they turned out to help Dugannon Enterprise Centre (DEC) celebrate its 25th anniversary.

The centre, the beating heart of business in the town, helps start-ups get on their feet, whilst encouraging already existing firms to expand.

But instead of just a cake, the centre’s team decided to do something unique to mark the milestone birthday.

So they invited Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill, Ulster and Ireland Rugby star Tommy Bowe, Tyrone GAA legend Peter Canavan and Royal Portrush Golf Club manager Wilma Erskine to speak at a business conference.

Compered by local sports reporter and broadcaster Adrian Logan, the quartet were quizzed on what made them so successful in their respective fields.

O’Neill made history as the first manager to guide Northern Ireland to the finals of the European Championship.

British and Irish Lion Bowe helped Ireland clinch Grand Slam glory in the Six Nations in 2009, while Canavan was Tyrone captain when the team won the All-Ireland for the first time in 2003.

As manager of Royal Portrush Golf course, Erskine is the lady responsible for bringing The Open to the club in 2019.

Speaking about the event on Wednesday, September 28, DEC’s chief Brian McAuley told the Times: “Twenty-five years in business, helping business is an important milestone for Dungannon Enterprise Centre, and to mark the birthday we had decided to do something unique.

“To get Michael O’Neill, Peter Canavan and Tommy Bowe on to the Hill of The O’Neill to share their stories was something I will never forget.

“Many of the audience were local business people, who not only had an interest in sport, but also wanted to know how these professional sports people managed and motivated people.

“Dungannon Enterprise Centre was opened in 1991, and has operated through the Troubles, several recessions and economic boom times.

“It has witnessed the single European Market, the birth of the internet, the ‘credit crunch’ and the growing migrant population in the area.

“As we trade into the next 25 years, who knows what the entrepreneurs of the future will face?

“Whatever it is, Dungannon Enterprise Centre will be here to help.”

Over 200 people from businesses across the country turned out to hear an O’Neill share how elite sport strikes parallels with the business world - on Hill of the O’Neill.

Fierce competitors, small margin wins, achieving goals and learning from set-backs are key challenges for sports and business people alike and the centre was keen to show how sport and business could learn from each other.

Event sponsors included Mid Ulster Council, Hagans Bar, Portafill, First Trust Bank and Cavanagh Kelly.

And a raffle at half time raised an amazing £1,500 for Leap For Luke.