ON HOME GROUND Achill’s Ciaran Boylan is pictured in full flight against Knockmore in the Mayo Junior Championship at Davitt Park, Polranny in 2017. Pic: Conor McKeown
THE race for the Mayo Junior Football Championship looks set to take a dramatic twist ahead of Saturday’s third round clash between Achill and Kilmovee Shamrocks.
Mayo GAA officials confirmed last night (Monday) that the match has been fixed for Davitt Park in Polranny — and not at a neutral venue.
However, Kilmovee manager Enda McGearty also said last night that Shamrocks’ ‘players and the club executive have met and taken the decision not to travel to Achill on Saturday’.
If Kilmovee fail to travel and fulfil the fixture, and Achill line out as expected, then referee Pat Conlon is within his rights to throw the ball in on Saturday at 4pm.
Under GAA rules, the game would then be awarded to Achill.
If the match was played in a neutral venue the Islanders would be the only team in Mayo not to have hosted a home game in this year’s club championships.
The fixing of the third round clash for Achill has generated a lot of discussion since it was announced last week with Kilmovee contacting the county board to question the decision.
The East Mayo club maintain the game should take place at a neutral venue as decreed at the start of the championship but since then, Lacken withdrew from the competition which led to the current controversy.
Con Moynihan, the chairman of Mayo GAA’s Competitions Control Committee (CCC) told The Mayo News last night (Monday) that ‘the situation wasn’t ideal’ but that ‘fairness has to come into it’.
“It’s nobody’s fault that Lacken had to withdraw and while the situation isn’t ideal for anyone, it would be unfair to leave Achill as the only team in the county without a home game,” Con Moynihan told The Mayo News.
“The fixtures committee had a very lengthy discussion about it and we totally understand Kilmovee’s situation but fairness has to come into it.
“Kilmovee contacted the county board to register their complaint about the decision and that’s understandable, but we were between a rock and a hard place.”
The championship format originally had both Achill and Kilmovee playing away in the opening round, lining out at home the following week, and meeting at a neutral venue on Saturday. But that plan went out the window when Lacken departed the competition.
Kilmovee Shamrocks made the trip to Lacken in round one and ran out 9-23 to 0-0 winners, the same evening as Achill drew with Cill Chomáin in Erris.
However, Lacken were gone by the following weekend when Kilmovee hosted Cill Chomáin and Achill were left kicking their heels.
That left Martin Keane’s men without a home game and that was a crucial factor in the decision to fix Saturday’s match for the seaside venue, according to county board vice-chairman Con Moynihan.
The result of Saturday’s match will decide who advances to the Junior championship quarter-final alongside Cill Chomáin. Achill currently have three points from their opening round draw with Cill Chomáin and the walk-over from Lacken, while the visitors are a point behind thanks to their big win in Lacken on day-one.
That means the East Mayo men must win in Achill Sound while a draw will send the home side into the knock-out stages.
“We are very willing to play the game at a neutral venue,” explained Kilmovee manager, Enda McGearty last night. “The ball is now back in the County Board’s court.”
Mayo Masters meet Dubs
MEANWHILE, the Mayo Masters footballers are in All-Ireland semi-final action against Dublin on Saturday next in Kiltoom at 2pm.