GETTING TO GRIPS Seamus Hughes, pictured here with the Super League trophy, is the new chairman of the Mayo League. Pic: John Corless
SEAMUS HUGHES, the new chairman of the Mayo League joined the management committee in 2015. He took over as vice-chairman a year and a half ago.
Seamus, who lives outside Knock, began his involvement in the sport as a player with Ballyvary Blue Bombers in 1990-91. During his career, he played for Straide and Foxford United, Knock United and then Kiltimagh/Knock United (KKU).
He played Masters football for Swinford and is a past official of KKU.
The Mayo News caught up with Seamus last week and put some general questions to him.
JC: What will be the main priority of your tenure as Mayo League Chairman?
SH: “The main thing will be to consolidate what we have. We have nearly 2,000 registered players in Mayo, from Under-17s up, so to maintain that will be the priority. Hopefully to get some of the clubs that have pulled out of junior football in the past few years, to get them back. Snugboro, Iorras Aonthaithe and Castlebar Town are examples.”
JC: What is the Mayo League doing to improve standards of football in the county?
SH: “We have always been working on that. We run coaching courses to make it easier for clubs to recruit qualified coaches. It’s not easy for clubs to find people to do these jobs, so the courses help there. They are aimed mainly at coaching youths and it is our hope it carries through. Many players now, are coached by properly qualified coaches from five or six years of age. The big push is on the FAI Club Mark. This is an FAI initiative and it covers all aspects of running a club. We encourage clubs to have the best facilities possible. The facilities in this county are second to none.”
JC: Many clubs now have a big turnover of players, even within a season. Is this a concern for you as Chairman of the League?
SH: “Yes, I’d prefer to see settled squads. It’s a big challenge for clubs. Times have changed so much for clubs and players. Players have so many distractions. Over the past few years we have worked at making it attractive for players to commit to soccer. We have put a lot of awards in place. We put a lot of work into the presentation of cup finals. It’s about keeping basic everyday things right, really and doing them to as high a standard as we can. It is an uphill battle. There’s talk of the Oscar Traynor Inter-League Cup competition coming back and we’ll enter a team in that.”
JC: Why are there no women on the Mayo League?
SH: “None have been elected on to the League yet. We’ll be looking for a woman to fill the next vacancy that occurs, but there aren’t that many women involved in clubs either.”
JC: Do you think that the title of Chairman of the Mayo League, as opposed to Chairperson, sends out the right message to women, who might be involved or want to become involved?
SH: “We probably should change the title from Chairman to Chairperson. It’s just that that’s what it has been known as, as long as I remember, but it probably should be chairperson.”
JC: Is there any message you want to get out to anybody now, in your new role?
SH: “Just to congratulate Gerry (Sweeney) on his tenure. He had a few tricky things to deal with and he dealt with them well. Obviously Covid was a big disruption, but the fallout from the FAI [John Delaney saga] did hurt soccer around the country. It gave ammunition to anyone who wanted to knock the sport.”