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Numbers not adding up for Manulla


ON THE MOVE Davy McCracken has left Manulla and signed for Ballina Town. Pic: John Corless

John Corless

FIVE Mayo soccer fixtures fell by the wayside last weekend because teams were unable to field. Manulla, Moy Villa and Swinford were joined by the ‘B’ teams of Westport United and Kiltimagh/Knock United in forfeiting their matches.
Perhaps it was coincidental, that this was a key weekend in the Mayo GAA calendar with club championship quarter finals, as well as relegation play-offs, in three grades.
Manulla’s inability to fulfil their game against Ballina Town in the Calor Gas Super Cup signals considerable trouble at the central Mayo Super League club.
That Manulla were unable to field a team for this competition, given the size and history of the club, is hugely significant, and feeds into this correspondent’s recent claim that soccer teams will always struggle for numbers in Mayo when players have the opportunity to play GAA championship.
Aiden Dunleavy resigned as Manulla manager a couple of weeks ago, and a number of first-team regulars have also left the club. His son, Aiden Junior, is one of the best young players in the county and, after a season starved of possession, he has swapped the blue of Manulla for the blue and white of Ballina Town.
His transfer was completed on Friday night last as the window closed. Also departing Manulla for the North Mayo side are Andrew Shally and David McCracken, while TJ Groarke has gone to Sligo after signing for Real Tubber.
And there is strong speculation that Chris Maughan and Richie Dalton will leave the club in December when the next transfer window opens.  
The loss of any one of these players would be a big blow to any club; the loss of all six would be devastating.
Dunleavy Snr, never seemed to have a full squad available for any match this past season. Sometimes it was because of injuries; other times players were not available for one reason or another. And like more clubs, a lot of their players disappear when the GAA championship gets underway. Manulla is in the catchment of Balla and Breaffy GAA clubs.  
Manulla often also struggled with numbers for training sessions.
As a result, Manulla had an indifferent season in the Super League.
The collapse of Claremorris and Ballyhaunis Town, and sporadic difficulties at Straide and Foxford United, gave their league position a healthier complexion than might be the case in different circumstances. But you only have to compete in the league you are in and against the other teams in that league, regardless of their strengths or weaknesses.
Manulla finished sixth which was a good achievement given their own difficulties, but where will they get players for next season to replace the departees?
“We have a huge crop of young players coming through,” Manulla chairperson David Cunningham told The Mayo News. “We’re building an exciting new project. We have a new management team appointed which will be taking over in a couple of weeks. We’re sorry to lose the players who have left, but they may be back in the future, who knows?”
It seems that not enough of the youngsters coming through were available to face Ballina Town on Sunday.
David Cunningham was not in a position to name any of the new management team at this stage, but stressed that the club was thankful to Aiden Dunleavy for his efforts managing the Super League and Under-21 teams and wished him the best in the future.
Manulla is a fine club. They have tremendous facilities and their commitment to youngsters with mental and physical difficulties is the best in the country, if not the world, and is an example to all sporting organisations.
On the pitch, or at least on the Super League pitch, they have a huge battle on their hands. When the list of approved transfers was published by the Mayo League on Friday night, which included the four departures, not one of the sanctioned list moved from Manulla ‘B’ to Manulla ‘A’.  Presuming they exit the cups, Manulla have six months or so to sort out their difficulties before the new season starts.

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