ON HOME GROUND James Horan is pictured at MacHale Park in Castlebar before a National League match in 2019. Pic: Sportsfile
THE Mayo senior footballers will not have any home matches in next year’s National League campaign and will instead play all of their matches outside the county.
That’s the stark reality facing James Horan’s men after The Mayo News learned yesterday (Monday) that no matches will be played at Hastings Insurance Brokers MacHale Park until next May.
Current resurfacing work is ongoing at the Castlebar stadium, and while that is out of bounds the next biggest venue in terms of crowd capacity is James Stephens Park in Ballina.
However, The Mayo News understands that venue doesn’t have the capacity to accommodate the sort of crowds (anywhere between 8,000 and 12,000 depending on the opposition) expected to watch Mayo compete in Division 1 of the National League again following their promotion from the second division last season.
“We’ve looked at every possibility but there’s just no way we can host the games,” Mayo GAA secretary Dermot Butler confirmed. “We’re now actively looking at alternatives and working with the authorities in Croke Park in that regard,” he added.
Mayo will be rostered for at least three home games, depending on the draw which won’t be finalised until later this month. And with Dublin, Kerry, Tyrone, Donegal, Monaghan, Kildare and Armagh all competing in the top-flight, all games will attract big crowds.
Any possibility of Mayo playing their home games in the Connacht GAA Centre of Excellence in Bekan has been dismissed by provincial secretary John Prenty, who told The Mayo News that it just wouldn’t be feasible.
“We would have to bring in temporary stands and with the crowds expected for those games it just wouldn’t be financially possible,” he explained. “A lot of work is going on behind the scenes at the moment to help Mayo as much as possible but it will all come down to logistics.
“Mayo will have to play all their home games outside the county and it might happen that they’ll have to play a home game outside the province too. It depends on the schedule of matches.
“For example, if Mayo were hosting Donegal the ideal spot to play that game would be in Markievicz Park in Sligo, but if Sligo are drawn to play at home that weekend themselves Mayo couldn’t play there, because the pitch won’t take two games in two days at that time of year.
“We’ll have to wait and see the draw and the dates and work from there, but the bottom line is that Mayo will be playing all the league games outside the county in 2022.”