Mayo plan to break new GAA rule to keep April a ‘club only’ month

Mayo are the first county to confirm they are planning to ignore a GAA decision to free up April as a ‘club only’ month, writes Stephen Barry.

Stephen Rochford’s All-Ireland runners-up have told the county board of their plan to have a training camp from April 11 to 18, according to the Western People.

Under a rule passed at September’s Special Congress, Mayo would not be allowed to take part in a training camp until May 3, ten days before their championship opener against Galway on May 13.

The penalty for breaching the rule is forfeiting home advantage for the county’s next League game, which wouldn't take place until early in 2019.

“We’re told that the Mayo team is going on a week-long camp and that actually they will not be available to clubs after that in preparation for the Connacht championship match against Galway,” county board vice-chairman Seamus Tuohy told club managers and officials.

The board announced plans to play club championship rounds on April 1 and 8, although the former date could potentially clash with the league final, should Mayo advance to that stage.

“The reality is that club players don’t get a fair crack of the whip, not in Mayo nor in any other county, and a process was put in place to correct that,” said Connacht GAA secretary and Ballyhaunis clubman John Prenty at the meeting.

“County players have to be available to clubs in April. That’s what was passed at Congress. I would say that in the month of April it’s possible to play at least four rounds of league football that don’t have to be starred (feature inter-county players).”

The landmark decision to free up April would enable clubs to have access to county players to play fixtures throughout the month in between the end of the National League on April 1 and start of the Championship in May.

However, the Club Players’ Association have expressed worries at the “carnage” that would be caused by leaving each county board to their own devices due to the lack of enforcement from Croke Park.

They have proposed a motion to the GAA’s Annual Congress, to take place next spring, that would pass into the rulebook “a mandatory closed period for games and collective training of all Inter-County panels for four consecutive weekends during the period April 1st to May 20th annually”.

KEYWORDS: Football, GAA, Mayo


By Stephen Barry

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