ON THE ROAD AGAIN Mayo manager James Horan is pictured with team selector Ciaran McDonald. Pic: Conor McKeown
THE Mayo senior footballers will begin life back in Division 1 of the National League with a mouthwatering clash against Donegal on Sunday, January 30 next — at Markievicz Park in Sligo.
As revealed previously in The Mayo News, Mayo will have no home National League games next season due to the ongoing resurfacing works at Hastings Insurance MacHale Park.
Therefore the opening round tie in Markievicz Park will be the first of three ‘home’ games that James Horan’s men will play at neutral grounds during the campaign against Donegal, Armagh and Kildare.
Croke Park, Hyde Park in Roscommon and Pairc Seán MacDiarmáda in Carrick-on-Shannon other possible venues for their two remaining ‘home’ games.
All counties received draft fixtures last week and Mayo were handed three ‘home’ ties along with away trips to Dublin, Kerry, Tyrone and Galway.
Any tweaks required will be made this week by Croke Park officials, before the fixtures are officially revealed shortly afterwards.
Connacht GAA Council Secretary, John Prenty, a member of the GAA’s Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) told The Mayo News that nothing is set in stone at the moment.
However, it’s likely that the Mayo v Armagh match will be played in Hyde Park with Mayo taking on Kildare in Carrick-on-Shannon or Croke Park.
“All we can say for sure at the moment is there will be no games in Mayo because there’s no ground big enough to take the crowd,” confirmed Prenty. “It’s highly likely the Donegal match will be in Sligo and the other two home games played in Connacht too, but there’s nothing confirmed yet.”
MEANWHILE, the Connacht GAA Fixtures Committee will meet this week to set dates and venues for the upcoming Senior, Intermediate and Junior club championship games to be played the weekend after next, December 4/5.
Mayo champions Knockmore will take on Sligo’s Tourlestrane for a place in the Connacht senior final while Intermediate winners Mayo Gaels will face off against Naomh Anna Leitir Mór from Galway in a much-anticipated Intermediate clash.
At Junior level, Kilmeena will play Galway representatives Athenry and there’s a possibility that the Connacht GAA Centre of Excellence in Bekan may host one or more of these games.
“At this time of the year pitch surfaces will be coming under pressure so there may be one or two of the games here, but all will be decided later in the week,” said John Prenty.
Elsewhere, the chairman of Mayo GAA’s fixture committee Con Moynihan has paid tribute to the clubs who hosted the four county finals last weekend.
The Ballaghaderreen clubman told The Mayo News the feedback from players, mentors and supporters has been extremely positive and the sense of occasion at all venues over Saturday and Sunday was excellent.
“They were hugely successful. Everyone worked together and made it a wonderful weekend of football. The four host clubs deserve huge credit. The work they put in from stewarding to hospitality to ground preparation and everything in between was brilliant. Sometimes crowds at county finals get lost in MacHale Park but that certainly wasn’t the case last weekend in Crossmolina, Charlestown, Claremorris or Ballina. Well done to all.”