NORTH Mayo clubs Lacken and Kilfian have agreed to seek permission to play together at adult level next year.
Last week’s meeting of the Mayo GAA Board was told that the two Junior clubs, who have both struggled to field teams in recent times, have agreed to apply for a ‘co-operation agreement’ for 2023.
To do so the clubs will need to seek a derogation from Croke Park to allow the two teams to to join forces for the next twelve months.
The clubs must then re-apply at the end of each year should they wish to extend the arrangement.
Mayo GAA chairman Seamus Tuohy told club delegates that the arrangement would give clubs an opportunity to decide on whether they wished to continue with the ‘co-operation agreement’.
Each club will retain their voting rights at Mayo GAA Convention, the right to purchase All-Ireland final tickets, and remain subject to County Board levies.
A renewal of any agreement would also acquire the approval of Mayo GAA’s management committee.
“The word ‘amalgamation’ is taken out of it completely,” Tuohy added.
County Board delegates from both clubs said the decision was taken to guarantee players the opportunity to play football.
“At the end of the day it’s the young lads that want to play football, not the lads here in this room,” said Kilfian delegate Pat Murphy.
“It’s all about keeping young lads playing football,” added Lacken delegate Michael Callaghan.
“Just over twelve months ago we were in a position where we nearly folded ourselves. To see a neighbouring club like Lacken who have small numbers as well, if this didn’t happen, they’d have no football next year,” said Pat Murphy.
“Two years down the line, three years down the line with no football, the club could fold. To see a neighbouring club go down like that wouldn’t be right.”
Lacken GAA club withdrew from the 2021 Exclusive Junior championship following a 50-point defeat to Kilmovee. Earlier this year, Kilfian conceded a championship game due to being unable to field a team.
Achill GAA club delegate Paul McNamara said that many rural clubs would face a similar situation in years to come due to rural depopulation.
McNamara said that the ‘co-operation agreement’ would prevent clubs from folding and would ensure that the GAA remains alive in rural areas.
“It’s not to make clubs stronger, it’s to make clubs better and that clubs can come together in a proper manner,” he said.
“The last thing we want is two clubs to come together and a fall-out to happen. That’s one thing the [demographics] committee does not want to see.”
Mayo GAA secretary Dermot Butler describe the clubs’ actions as ‘a brave move’.
“Nobody likes to admit that clubs are struggling for numbers…It’s great to see that clubs are willing to take this step to survive,” he said.