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Mayo need funds to close gap on Dubs

Sport

VOICE OF EXPERIENCE Mark Butler from Kilmaine played for Mayo at all levels. Pic: Michael Donnelly


Michael Gallagher

FORMER Mayo footballer Mark Butler says big business and supportive benefactors can play a huge role in helping bring Sam Maguire back to the county.
The Kilmaine native is currently Executive Vice-President of Merit Medical in Galway and a passionate supporter of Mayo GAA.
In an exclusive interview with The Mayo News, the man who kicked the winning point for St Jarlath’s in the 1984 All-Ireland Colleges final said the current Dublin team are professional in all but name and stated Mayo players must be given similar opportunities.
“People say it’s not about money, but let’s get real here. The two teams currently at the top of the GAA tell their own story. Limerick hurlers have a huge benefactor and the Dublin footballers want for absolutely nothing. All 40 on the Dublin panel are looked after in every way.
“I think Mayo have done an outstanding job in looking after their players over the past ten years, but let’s not kid ourselves – geography, home advantage and all of the funds they have at their disposal have got Dublin those one or two points which have been the difference.
“Mayo have pushed them harder than anybody else, but those advantages have told in the last ten minutes of games when there was absolutely nothing else between them,” Butler stated before saying Mayo must ring-fence funding specifically for the retention of players and the provision of top-quality employment.
“Take our young prodigy from Kilmaine as an example. Oisin Mullin is hot property and the Australians are sniffing around him, but he has now taken on a role with Portwest and that’s exactly what we should be doing. We have to look after our players. We have to make sure we give them quality employment in the west of Ireland.
“It’s going to be difficult post pandemic with lots of businesses struggling, but there’s a fantastic Mayo diaspora and they’ve done really well with fundraising over the years to keep us so close to Dublin.
“Ultimately Mayo will be remembered for delivering the holy-grail, for winning Sam Maguire and the raw material to make that happen is our young players. I’d like to see funds segregated out so that lads who are interested in staying around have the jobs that they need to have. We must invest in them and get really serious about it, because it won’t happen by us hoping it will happen,” the former All-Ireland club winner with Salthill Knocknacarra said.
As a young man himself, Butler had arrived on the Mayo senior scene in a blaze of excitement in the mid 1980s but never reached the heights he had dreamt of before his final game in 1991.
“I had a very short career with Mayo seniors through injury and a bit of immaturity. In my time, I played a bit part in an All-Ireland semi-final against Meath and a few more games like that but we were only getting to the odd post-Connacht serious business end of the competition.
“Things are completely different now. In the past ten years, but for a few hops of the ball, we could have three or four All Irelands and the sense of pride those players have brought us is very special.
“Everyone talks about us having to find this messiah of a forward, but when you compare the Mayo forward line one-for-one with the Dublin forward line there’s very little between them. Mayo have serious athletes and the only group, despite Dublin’s professionalism, who can go toe-to-toe with them. One of these days the ball will bounce our way and we’ll have our day.
“I’ve been involved in football since I was two or three and anyone who says luck doesn’t play a part is wrong. We just have to be there when the opportunity presents itself. There are very fine margins between winning and losing and we must all work towards ticking off each of these and creating the proper environment for our players is one of the most important of these.”

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