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Mayo GAA Leagues in limbo

Sport
Mayo GAA Leagues in limbo

Edwin McGreal

AT least 1,600 club footballers face an uncertain future after radical proposals to restructure the Mayo GAA Leagues were shot down last week at a meeting of County Board club delegates.
It now seems almost certain that no decision will be made on the formation of the 2007 Mayo GAA Leagues until the New Year, leaving all 48 football clubs in the county in limbo.
Although there was no vote taken at last week’s Mayo GAA Board meeting on the proposed league restructuring, it became apparent eventually that the proposals of a special Task Force were not going to be accepted by the delegates present.
The lack of competitive games and promotion opportunities were cited as the biggest shortcomings by opponents. Clubs were then asked to give their own alternatives to the current league problem which sees several games still waiting to played in the run-up to Christmas.
Mayo GAA Chairman, James Waldron, invited clubs to submit alternative proposals to the Board by tonight (Wednesday). Ballintubber delegate Sean Hallinan mentioned a set of proposals he had at the meeting last week while other clubs may come up with their own ideas on the issue.
One set of proposals, put forward by the former Mayo GAA PRO, Kevin O’Toole, have been submitted to the County Board Task Force this week. The basic premise of the proposal is that each division of the league, heretofore having 12 teams per division, be reduced to an eight team division.
These eight teams would play each other twice, on a home and away basis. Up to seven of these fourteen games would be played without inter-county players (the old starred round system) but at least half must be played with county players.
For instance if Crossmolina and Ballina play in Crossmolina in Round 1 of the league without their county players, they must have them available for the return game in Round 8.
The idea would be that seven starred games could be played the week before inter-county games to stop the club scene grinding to a halt in high summer as was the case this year.
By the end of the fourteen game league (there would be two teams being promoted and two relegated from each, with the obvious exception of Division 1) the top four teams and the bottom four teams would pair off into two groups.
The top four teams would play each other once in a round robin with their county players available to them. The top team after this would win the league with the next team promoted along with them. In the bottom four the bottom two after the round robin (also with county players) would be relegated. Scoring difference would be used to separate teams level on points.
Such a starred system was used before but in this proposal the argument is that there will be enough starred games to play regularly during the summer, enough games with county players to give a team a chance of finishing in the top four and then three vital games with county players as teams fight for the important honours.
To achieve the grading the 2006 league placings would be used which would see the top eight from Division 1 fill Division 1 for next year (currently Crossmolina, Shrule/Glencorrib, Ballina, Belmullet, Kiltane, Claremorris, Moy Davitts and one of Charlestown, Westport and Castlebar.
The last three all finished tied and scoring difference is suggested to decide who would come out on top.
The other two would be part of Division 2 along with the bottom two teams, Breaffy and Ballinrobe and the top four teams in Division 2, currently Ballaghaderreen, Davitts, Ballintubber and Tourmakeady, would form the new division 2.
The formation of Division 3 would consist of the remaining five teams in the present Division 2 (currently Burrishoole, Knockmore, Kilmeena, Louisburgh and Garrymore), the team that wins the Division 2/Division 3 (currently Kiltimagh against either Parke or Bonniconlon) playoff and the two teams promoted from the present Division 3 (Killala and Swinford).
That will mean that Division 4 will comprise of the losers of that Division 2/3 play-off, along with the bottom two teams in Division 2 (Hollymount and currently Cill Chomain) and the next five teams in Division 3.

AN ALTERNATIVE PROPOSAL
>    Divisions to consist of eight teams
>    Grading to be derived from 2006 standings
>    Teams to play each other home and away in initial round
>    Up to seven of these fourteen games to be starred (minus county players)
>    Initial round to decide top four and bottom four in each group
>    Four team round robin played to decide two promoted and two relegation places

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