We’re not going down quietly
MAYO hurling chiefs have reacted with anger and surprise to the proposed restructuring of the National Hurling League for the 2007 season which would see the county’s hurlers operate in Division 3 next season.
Mayo, who were beaten by a single point in this year’s Division Two league semi-final by Kerry, would face demotion to the Third Division under the revamped proposals. However, speaking to The Mayo News last night, Mayo hurling manager Frank Browne expressed his disappointment at the decision.
“It’s quiet a blow to us and we will be asking the County Board to look closely at the proposals and also asking them to make representations to Croke Park at the Special Congress next month outlining our opposition to the idea. I mean if you look at the new Division Two as it is proposed, of the nine teams competing in it we have beaten a number of them over the last two seasons.”
The report which recommended Mayo’s ‘demotion’ was released last Tuesday by the Games Administration Committee, and included contributions by the Competitions Task Force, the Hurling Development Committee and the Football Task Force, among others.
The draft also includes a proposal to restore the National Football League to a four tier system in which Mayo would participate in Division One for next season. The draft document has been circulated to all counties for their perusal and the final say in respect of the National Leagues will be left for Central Council to decide at their next meeting. Special Congress will debate the proposals in respect of the hurling and football championship on October 14.
Browne has indicated that Mayo will vigourously challenge their demotion, and has outlined the three main points in their argument against it. “Firstly, why change the league at all? Secondly, if they are to change it why was there no consultation with managers and players, the grassroots of the game who are the ones that the decisions effect most keenly? Finally, if change has to be made, then why do Mayo have to suffer? No disrespect to the likes of Longford and Donegal who are in Division Three with us now, but they are looking to make their breakthrough. We already have made the breakthrough and are looking to move up a level again.
“We have been in two under 21 B finals and been in the last three Minor C finals in a row. The Mayo GAA Board have put up to €500,000 into Mayo hurling in the last few years and we are making progress.”
The Mayo management and players met last Monday night to discuss the development and offer alternative proposals, including the restructuring to be held back until 2008 and phase it in based on form for the 2007 league and championship campaigns. “It’s hard to go forward when you find the goalposts have been moved to a different angle,” lamented Browne.
MEANWHILE, Ballyhaunis captured the Kilmacud Crokes seven-a-side hurling shield title in Dublin last weekend.
David McConn, Peter Higgins and John Joe Hoban masterminded victory over Clonkill of Westmeath in the final after wins over Monaghan Gaels, Derrynoose of Armagh, a Donegal side and Castleblayney Faughs.
Playing against the wind in the first half of the final, Ballyhaunis went in at half-time down by 2-4 to 0-2. Ballyhaunis went further behind on the restart and with about three minutes to go were trailing by 3-8 to 1-5.
However, a three goal burst by the Mayo champions left the scores level at full time. Clonkill pulled away again in injury-time but in the last two minutes Ballyhaunis outscored their opponents by 1-1 to a single point to win by the minimum.
UP AT THE SEVENS Ballyhaunis captain Pierce Higgins leaves Clonkill’s Ollie Plunkett trailing during the Shield Final at last weekend’s Kilmacud Crokes’ Hurling Sevens.