Tyrone have broken new ground by appointing Roisin Jordan as their county chair, the first time a female has held the highly symbolic position in the country.
O’Neill appointed Jordan to head up a committee related to the training of club and county officers.He said he realised at the time that her contribution “was going to be recognised by high office” at some point and anticipated her progression.
Depending on her interest and ambition, Jordan could move into provincial administration in Ulster in future and, potentially, challenge for the GAA presidency at some point.
O’Neill said that, generally speaking, the time is coming closer when a women is elected president of the Association for the first time.
“People ask us will there be a women president of the GAA? Of course there will,” said O’Neill. “But it takes time. You have to have a body of people. It takes a while to build up a critical mass of women who are involved to then bring forward someone who is top of their administration.
“Women are only in administration in senior positions 20 years. It took me 36 years to become president. So you can’t expect things to happen overnight.
“There is a natural progression. You have to show your credentials along the way. But the great thing about this is that once the barrier was broken, others will follow and it will seem more natural now. This is a smooth transition in Tyrone. She’s a competent person and I think it’s paved the way for the future by virtue of the fact that others will see it now as a possibility to do what she has.”
O’Neill praised Tyrone for embracing change and appointing the Eglish club member as the successor to Ciarán McLaughlin.
“I commend Tyrone for being first,” said O’Neill. “They’re open minded and have a history of throwing up good administrators. This is just one more good appointment.”