MAYO manager John O’Mahony will put the interests of clubs at the top of his priority list for the 2007 season. Speaking at a Mayo GAA Board delegates meeting on Monday night in Castlebar, O’Mahony said that players should be available to clubs for the majority of the week running into club championship matches. Furthermore, clubs would have their county players for all league games and that past problems of players being over-trained on the weekends of league matches would not be repeated.
“There’ll be no question, as in the past, of county teams training on the morning before the club would play. That won’t be happening. If there are league games on a particular Sunday we will be training on the Saturday morning but it certainly won’t be heavy stamina. We feel it is important that there is co-operation there.”
Elaborating on the plans ahead of club championship games, O’Mahony did put the caveat in that a trip through the back-door would change the best-laid plans.
“The first round of the club championship is on May 27 which is the week after Mayo play Galway. I would hope that we would meet the players once (afterwards) from a county perspective and that would be the Monday or Tuesday night. We wouldn’t have them then until the following Tuesday night again. Hopefully we will be able to continue that right through the season. Now, if we find ourselves in a back door situation, we’ll have to look at that.”
Moving on to talk about the mood in the county, O’Mahony was keen to stress that football followers remain on an ‘even keel’ when it comes to the Mayo team.
“There’s a lot of talk about how we will do this year. A lot of it is wild talk to a certain extent. I think it’s important to realise that nowadays you don’t get anything soft in Connacht. The big, big day for us is May 20. It’s important that we keep an even keel on it. I don’t want people to go into depression when we lose just as I don’t want people to get too excited when we beat the likes of a Kerry team still recovering from the All-Ireland celebrations.”
O’Mahony also told those present in the Welcome Inn Hotel that he had looked at 50 to 55 players to date and was running short-term plans hand in hand with long-term objectives. He added that a number of the Mayo U-21 winning team of last year had been put on weight programmes but were not actively training with the side.
After O’Mahony had finished – and with no questions forthcoming from the floor – Pat Fitzgerald of Gaelic Telecom addressed the meeting. Ironically, he was subjected to much more intensive questioning from delegates.
County Board Vice-Chairman, Paddy McNicholas went on to read out the rules that clubs must comply with for the Mayo championships. McNicholas explained that many of the new sideline regulations for inter-county games will be extending to club championship. He also explained that scoring differences, and not play-offs, would be used to separate teams tied together in the group stages of the championship.
No date was given for a championship draw but it was confirmed that the first round of the championship will take place on the weekend of May 27. For the championship there would be four seeded teams based on semi-final placings last year (where Tourmakeady are now senior, the team relegated to Intermediate, Kiltimagh, will now replace them in this regard).
It was also confirmed that the Mayo GAA leagues will start on St Patrick’s weekend with games being spread out over the Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The second round will take place the following weekend, the weekend of March 25 with rounds three, four and five all pencilled in for the weekends of April 8, April 22 and April 28 respectively. There will be no games on the weekend of April 1 due to the Mayo U-21’s being in action while the Mayo senior squad will be on a team holiday on the weekend of April 15.