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MacHale Park repayments ‘a savage burden’ on clubs

Sport

ON HOME GROUNDLacken Sarsfields GAA Club chairman Paddy Connor is pictured at the Joseph Loughney Memorial Pitch last week. Pic: David Farrell Photography

Edwin McGreal

THE cost of loan repayments on MacHale Park is ‘crippling’ small GAA clubs like Lacken.
That’s the view of Lacken chairman Paddy Connor who has asked the Mayo GAA Board to reduce the burden on clubs by exploring options, including extending the loan period and, therefore, reducing the annual repayments.
“I’m not sure people in the County Board know how hard it is for clubs like us to sell €100 County Board tickets to pay back MacHale Park.
“It’s a savage burden. We have to pay our insurance, we have to contribute financially to the Naomh Padraig amalgamation, and we have to pay for use of the dressing rooms in the community centre.
“Then, on top of that, we’ve to give €8,500 to the county board. Of that €4,000 [reduced to €3,500 this year] is for county board tickets. ‘Dead money’ I call that. That’s an awful lot for a small club.
“Selling €100 tickets to pay back the stand in Castlebar is very hard for us,” he added.
“It’s okay for the likes of Kiltane, who have big connections in the USA and UK. The likes of us don’t have the same connections.
“It all comes back to a crazy spend on that stand in MacHale Park. I won’t live to see it paid and a lot coming after me won’t live to see it paid either. It has been a huge burden on clubs.
“As much as it might continue the lifetime of the loan, spreading it out over a longer time and reducing the burden on clubs every year has to be looked at,” he said.
County Board chairman Liam Moffatt confirmed to The Mayo News recently that Mayo GAA had received permission to defer payments on the repayment loan to Croke Park due to the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. This deferral is understood to be on the basis that it is reviewed ‘on a monthly basis’.
Lacken are amalgamated with Ballycastle, Killala and Kilfian at underage.
With amalgamation being something more and more clubs in Mayo are facing in order to provide underage football, Paddy Connor said they had their ‘fair share of hiccups’ but is happy with the amalgamation now.
“We’ve a very good chairman of Naomh Padraig in Seamus Smyth (the former Knockmore footballer). He straightened out a lot of problems where you had people saying ‘my lad from my club has to play’. We had a few meetings and thrashed things out and looked at the bigger picture.
“It is very easy to drive kids away from football altogether with that kind of stuff and you’ll never get them back. It doesn’t matter whether they’re from your club or not, you have to be fair.
“Things are working very well now, there’s someone from each club involved in management and they all know their football,” he said.
Indeed, Naomh Padraig had high hopes for their U-16 and minor teams in 2020.
“At U-16 level, in particular, we had a great chance of winning silverware, we had them training indoors all winter. But you’d fear that these lads might lose interest in football altogether because they can’t even train, never mind play over the last few months.”
Recent news that Bord na nÓg football is set to return in early August will have been music to the ears then of the likes of the Naomh Padraig Under-16s.

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