Floodlit game uncertain for Mayo in Castlebar
MAYO’S National Football League opener against Galway is in limbo, with plans to stage the game under floodlights at McHale Park, Castlebar now in doubt.
Castlebar Town Council’s decision to grant retention planning permission for the McHale Park development has been appealed to An Bord Pleanála by Peter Sweetman and Associates, on behalf of the McHale Road Residents Association.
Mayo GAA Board Chairman James Waldron insists the game will be played in the county ground – but says it is not yet clear whether it will take place under lights. The game, the first inter-county match to be played under floodlights in McHale Park, is scheduled to take place on Saturday evening, February 6. The game is due to be televised by Setanta Sports.
“Whether it’s the Saturday night or the Sunday, I don’t know,” the County Board Chairman told The Mayo News. “We have to get clarification on that. As of now, it’s still fixed for the Saturday night, but it would be really down to whether we’re allowed to use the lights or not.”
But the Mayor of Castlebar believes a match cannot be played under lights in McHale Park while An Bord Pleanála consider the matter. Cllr Michael Kilcoyne, who has been a vocal critic of the GAA’s handling of the project, said: “The lights are the subject of the appeal and cannot be used – it would be a breach if they do that. A further breach.”
A spokesman for An Bord Pleanála said that there was ‘no request for an oral hearing’ in the appeal, but that the board ‘has the right’ to call one if deemed necessary. He added that the board hopes to deal with the matter ‘on or before April 29, 2010’, so a resolution ahead of the National League opener looks highly unlikely.
James Waldron insisted that there is no question of the game being moved to an alternative venue. “It will be in McHale Park – there’s no doubt about that,” he concluded.
Seamus Granahan, Castlebar Town Manager, said that Castlebar Town Council ‘will be making a submission’ to An Bord Pleanála. He confirmed that ‘there was some unauthorised work done’ at McHale Park in early December, but that the GAA had ‘immediately’ promised to deal with it.