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Ballina should host Mayo Galway clash - Hyland

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VENUE Mayo have not played a National Football League match in James Stephens Park in Ballina since 2009. Pic: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Anton McNulty

A WESTPORT councillor has called on the GAA to play next year’s Mayo v Galway Allianz league game in Ballina as part of the town’s tercentenary celebrations.
In 2023, Ballina will mark 300 years since its formal establishment with a year-long programme of events planned to take place in the north Mayo capital. Speaking at last week’s monthly meeting of Mayo County Council, Westport-based councillor Christy Hyland commented that in light of Ballina marking 300 years and Galway reaching the All-Ireland final, it would be appropriate that next season’s Allianz league clash between the two rivals should take place in James Stephens Park in Ballina.
“Galway will be playing Mayo next year in the league because they will be in the same division, so it might be an idea to ask for that game to be played in Stephenite’s Park. There will be rivalry and fun but I think it should be looked at,” said the Tuam native.
The last league game played in Ballina was in 2009, when Mayo played Dublin because Mac Hale Park was not available due to construction work for the new stand.
Cllr Hyland made his comments after a presentation to the council by Lisa Hallinan, the Ballina 2023 Project Manager. Ms Hallinan outlined plans for the celebrations, which are expected to be worth €40 million to the north Mayo economy, and she asked the council to financially support the initiative to the tune of €350,000.
A number of councillors voiced their support, saying Mayo County Council should financially support the celebrations, pointing out that the council provided €250,000 to Westport when that town celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2017.
“I would like to see the council here standing up and supporting [Ballina] because without money you cannot do a lot.
“It is only €350,000; they got €250,000 a few years ago for Westport and they did a good job, but we hope to do ten times better. What goes around comes around,” said Ballina councillor John O’Hara.

Commitment
Cllr Jarlath Munnelly who is the Chairperson of Ballina 2023 thanked his colleagues for their support, stating the hope was to leave a lasting legacy for Ballina and the north Mayo region.
“There is an ask here of Mayo County Council,” he said, “but I will say this: we have a very detailed budget we are working on. This will not be an event that will massively run over budget and have a deficit at the end … Whatever figure we agree on it will be something we will deliver on, and that is the commitment I will stand over here today.”
Westport councillor Peter Flynn wished Ballina well, saying that he is in no doubt those involved will do an excellent job. However, he said he is sceptical as to whether the council will step up with the funding sought.
“We had the Newport 300, and it has been a huge success, but ultimately it has come down to local people and local councillors to deliver the money, because Mayo County Council did not deliver on anything at a high level.
“Do I see anything differently this time around? I don’t, but I wish you every success on it,” he said.

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