HE’S BEEN described as “a playmaker and a heartbreaker”, an All Ireland veteran who could very well emerge a hero for his county on Saturday, but to the children of St Mary’s in Newtownbutler he is simply Mr Sludden.
The school is buzzing with excitement this week as staff and students gear up to cheer on Tyrone in the big match this weekend, with local county rivalries put aside in support of P7 teacher Niall Sludden, who is a wing half for the team.
It’s the second time the school has got behind Mr Sludden, who also featured in Tyrone’s All Ireland final clash with Dublin in 2018. However, back then the Dromore man had only been teaching at the school for a year and the match took place in August before classes returned. This time around, the pupils back and on hand to give him a good Fermanagh slagging.
“The kids are all buzzing,” Mr Sludden told the Herald, speaking last Friday when pupils donned the Tyrone colours in support of their teacher, who some have taken to calling ‘Mr Muscle.’
“They all dressed in red and white, but there were a few Mayo jerseys floating about,” he joked.
“I’ve a good class that came in there and they’re already slagging me, some of them wanted a green, white and red day, or were drawing green and red on their hands, and I’ve got a few black cards.”
Mr Sludden said everyone was happy to be back in class after a disruptive year due to the pandemic, and the match had been giving everyone a boost after the Covid challenges.
“There’s a massive buzz, not only here but in Tyrone,” he said. “It gives that lift, and in the school it’s something to chat about.”
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