Hurlers should be allowed to play at MacHale Park

A bit of an unseemly row has erupted between Mayo GAA and its Hurling Board over the hurlers’ access to MacHale Park. They’re due to play a Round 4 Christy Ring Cup match against neighbours Sligo next Saturday, a match fixed for James Stephens Park in Ballina. The Hurling Board requested that this tie and their subsequent clash with Derry be moved to the reopened MacHale Park but this request has been turned down.

The story has gained some traction in the media today. The Mayo News (paper and digital variants), the Western People and Midwest Radio all ran with it this morning and it has since been picked up by RTÉ and the Irish Post.

The Hurling Board’s argument is a straightforward one. The pitch is open again and the hurlers should have the same opportunity to play on it as the footballers have. The new surface and the wider pitch dimensions at the county venue compared to Ballina would suit them better and it’s a pitch the team would love to play on.

The County Board’s position is that the redeveloped pitch is “being protected” as it’s still in “the development stage”, which means it’s not open to all teams to use. Some repair work is currently being carried out on the Albany End goal area and while the footballers have been allowed to use the pitch “a few times” they’re not training on it but are using it for “ball work.”

While the need to protect the new playing surface is understandable, the logic behind the refusal to allow the hurlers to play Championship matches on it has to be questioned. At most, the hurlers would be looking to play there twice – next Saturday and again the following Saturday – at a time of year when the weather is fine and grass growth is at its most vigorous.

It’s hard to see how two hurling matches played in the month of May would cause irreparable damage to the redeveloped playing surface. The footballers are unlikely to be in action again at the venue until early June and it could be that they won’t play another match there this year.

After a tough start to the year, the county’s hurlers have now hit a decent run of form in the Christy Ring Cup. Victories over Wicklow and London have given them an opportunity to challenge for a place in the final, a spot that will be secured if they win their upcoming home games against Sligo and Derry.

You’d imagine that the new playing surface at MacHale Park would be ideal for hurling and playing there would give the lads the best opportunity to claim a place in the final, which would be a notable achievement for them. There doesn’t seem to be any compelling reason to deny Derek Walsh’s team the right to play these two matches in Castlebar and their request for equal treatment with the footballers is a reasonable one. It’s a request that deserves to be granted.

77 thoughts on “Hurlers should be allowed to play at MacHale Park

  1. Fair play WJ. It’s awfully disappointing that we’ve managed to get ourselves back into the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Yet again. I’m bloody sick to the teeth seeing how many different ways we manage, as a county, to shoot ourselves in our collective feet.
    Between this and the fundraiser that wasn’t a fundraiser, we just can’t help ourselves. At a time when we should have the heads down and preparing for a qualifier, we’re somehow talking about this.
    If we can allow Galway to train on our pitch, then we can allow our own actual team to play on it.

  2. One would have to admire the hurling board for going public on this. The hurling clubs are paying levies for the massive debt but are getting very different treatment when it comes to using the facilities which they paid for. Then we get to the County Secretary’s comment on today’s Mayo News ‘the senior footballers are our “million dollar” team, so we have to be cognisant of that fact too’ . There isnt much to say after that.

  3. As I posted already I can’t think of any other county that would allow this to happen. How can hurling be promoted when this happens and you see the comments from the CB on the Mayo news. A good surface is so important in hurling, especially for this Mayo team which isn’t very physical and rely on a good first touch.
    The compromise of moving the games to Tooreen was also rejected on technical reasons. All a bit ironic as the Mayo footballers have been using it for training the last 2 summers.
    Wouldn’t it great to have a chairman like Michael Duignan in Offaly that can see the merits of promoting both games, in a much smaller county!

  4. Just to clarify, Puckout, the reason Tooreen can’t be used (for the Sligo game at least) is because it’s not designated as a ‘county ground’. This designation is in the gift of Croke Park, with all the 21st century health and safety hoops to jump through, so this option not being available is one for the GAA at central level to sort. Which, needless to say, it should.

  5. Two reasons the “protecting the pitch” argument is fanciful at best

    1) Footballers have trained there a few times (and even Galway footballers)

    2) All the kids on the pitch at HT the last day with no attempt to stop them. (I’m massively in favour of allowing it to happen, it’s great to see, but you can’t then use the protecting excuse)

    Hurling is so much better a spectacle in summer than winter precisely because the pitch condition is so important. And as WJ mentioned, with rain last weekend and a nice dry spell this week, grass growth will be excellent. It needs to be sorted

  6. I guess the County Board don’t want McHale Park associated with a Mayo team that might be able to actually win on it.

    I take an odd visit out to Cusack’s cottage in the Burren. The man along with others, had the brilliant vision and the drive to promote Gaelic games (not just football) and put the initial foundations that we see today in place.

    It might educate the county board if they were bundled on to a bus and brought to visit the birthplace of Gaelics humble beginings, and how a man’s vision grew these games instead of smothering them. A man born at the height of the great famine when there was almost nothing, fuck all, to build on.

    Rugby in Croke Park, fund raising soccer in Corks hallowed turf, and a Mayo County Board that won’t allow hurling on its county grounds.
    Unbelievable.

    What an insult to our hurlers, and to the Michael Cusack’s who paved a road for the growth of sport, not just football.

    The father’s of our Gaelic games would be so disappointed to see such neglect shown to a counties team, neglect from within the county itself.

    Give back the money for the tiles and give back the thousands paid by each club at the start of each year.

    Give it all back and then look out across a field that can never be paid for.

    Is McHale Park to become a monument to shenanigans, a temporary ban on hurling, on its turf, a decision that might be expected in Penal times when we didn’t rules ourselves.

    Either allow the hurling games on McHale Park or get people on the board who will make decisions, easy decisions, that every mayo man woman and child can proudly say, ” that’s our county team ” and they are every bit as entitled to use McHale Park as is our County football team.

    It seems like this time, the county board have actually shoved the shot gun up their arses, in order to shoot themselves in the foot.

  7. What exactly is the distinction between training on the pitch and doing ‘ball work’? As Yeats once asked ‘How do you separate the dancer from the dance?’

  8. McHale Park or Nowhere and all Senior Ladies matches should be there also

  9. New pitch opening teething problems.
    Tannoy still can’t be heard around the ground.
    Tiles that helped pay for the development, embarrassing.
    Stand ticket seat allocation, a disaster once again.
    Very few stewards to make sure no unauthorised entry onto the pitch. (Great to see kids on the pitch, but shouldn’t have been let happen this time)
    Poor performance on the day from our lads.
    Galway allowed train on the pitch.
    Now we won’t allow our hurlers play on the new pitch. Jesus wept.
    Some problems not new, some annoying, some embarrassing, some unbelievable.
    All preventable.

  10. @Spotlight,. How do you separate the Dancer’s from the Dance? . .. What a wonderful question!.. It demands an answer!

  11. Why do we always end up in the media for the wrong reasons Hurlers should be allowed to play there . Full stop

  12. We are the laughing stock of the country yet again. We have run of of feet to shoot ourselves in long ago.

  13. Revellino,brilliant nothing more to said after that piece,surely time that the county board was resurfaced

  14. Revellino. thats a brillant last line you wrote. The hurlers should be allowed play in mchale park and it will be a thundering disgrace if they cannot play their championship games in mchale park .The chances are that the footballers will not play again in mchale park this year or once at best if they get a home draw in the qualifiers. I think a protest should be organised against this decision and I definitely would march in the protest and carry a placard. As MAYO gaa supporters we cannot sit back and do nothing, we have to do something. The hurlers are an integral part of mayo gaa.

  15. What is it about the County Board, that everything they touch turns to s**t? This is yet another embarrassing episode and you can’t blame the hurlers for going public on it.

    I will only yield to the County Board’s rationale (such as it is) on this issue, if someone can explain to me why the Galway footballers should be allowed to train on it, rather than our own county hurlers.

    This also undermines a lot of the good work that has gone into Mayo hurling in the past few decades, between the Rackard Cup wins, Tooreen’s wins in the Connacht Intermediate Championship, the revival of hurling in Ballina etc.

  16. Mayo Minors having to play their games in Ballina

    Mayo under 20s play first round of championship v Galway in Bekan while Mayo seniors train in McHale Park

    Mayo hurlers now being refused.

    I dont have inside knowledge of other counties, but something seems off inside ours.

  17. Ah now perhaps we were allowed train on Pearse Stadium when it opened first.

  18. The CB needs to reverse this decision asap. It’s plain wrong and I haven’t heard one person put up a credible argument for it.

  19. A couple of things in that…..

    1) If the lads are using it “just for ball-work” then it represents a very poor return on the investment because, from I have seen over the last two years, they could restrict their training to out the road in Cloondeash where Castlebar Rubgy train and play. Lateral hand passes, running off the shoulder, territorial %, turnovers…. need I go on?

    2) They trained from 8pm to 10pm last night on the pitch, in the lashings of rain, flat out, fully lit. The whole works. there was no”saving” the pitch.

    3) I have personal experience in dealings with the county board and pitch access up and around MacHale Park. Long story short, not only do they want MacHale Park only for the footballers, they also want the two training pitches. i.e. the “top” and “bottom” county board pitches to be held in reserve for them also. A public forum like this is not the place to air dirty laundry but knowing the “agreement” in place, it’s safe to say, that only one side is winning in that deal.

    4) As referenced above with the tiles, and widely reported in the press, who is going to pay for the repairs/replacement for the defective work? And, will the monies received/paid out/reimbursed etc be reported in the county boards accounts?

  20. Pebbles thats shocking reading, but it gives an insight to the readers here. The Mayo footballers can train and play there (and the Galway footballers can have a training session), yet our county hurling team are not allowed play or train. Its just so crazy at this stage. In recent weeks off the field, there has been a “fundraising do” where County Board officials attended, but dont know where funds raised went or who organised it (this is all on yesterdays Mayo News), the tiles aren’t fitted right and the hurling saga now.

  21. I’m not attempting to steer this conversation towards some off the off pitch debacles we have had with kit van fines, the tiles, the fundraisers etc etc but for the criticism JH gets at times for his stubbornness and tactical issues you would wonder is the senior football setup that professional in spite of the administrators? Will we only see after hes gone the fantastic job he did to keep it all “on the road”

  22. East Cork Exile, I am not a big fan of JH over the last 2 seasons, but I think your point is well made. I think alot of the professionalism surrounding Mayo teams is down to management and in spite of the administration.

    I would extend that to the under 20 team and the minor team also.

    Managers and personalities aside, our record at senior level in connacht over the last 7 years is poor (2 connacht titles). Our record at under 20/21 and minor has also been poor.

    I’m not looking to stir up trouble, but in my opinion this has been glossed over or conveniently overlooked by many because our senior team has been reaching all ireland finals.

    It cant continue. Mayo people should be talking about these things more.

    Repeated success from 2003 to 2013 at underage level provided us with the foundation for the 10 years we have enjoyed from 2012 to 2022 at senior level.

    We have not enjoyed that level of consistent underage success in the last 10 years (2016 all ireland being the exception). It cannot all be the fault of managers like JH, Maurice Sheridan, Thomas Morley, Sean Deane etc

  23. Disgraceful but not surprising decision by the County Board. When will they ever learn. We should be nurturing hurling in the county not treating it like an inconvenience that has to be tolerated.

  24. For those of us who play the MayoGAA weekly lotto maybe we should consider boycotting the lotto until this descrimitary/daft decision is reversed by the CB! Talking about shooting ourselves in the foot! A Dia dhilis what a mess!

  25. Spotlight, modern society has no problem differentiating the dancer from the dance, as it knows all things – Mar dhea. (opinion masquerading as fact – that’s my opinion)

  26. Like an acla, only language anyone understands,starve them of money,soon bring them to their senses

  27. But yet, there would have being absolute uproar if people weren’t allowed on the pitch after the game ! At this stage, its seen as a right for people to do so, and they’ll be hell to pay for if anyone was to tell them otherwise.

    We cant have it every way.

  28. For the people who constantly criticize the county board offices – how many of you would give up 10-15 hours of your free time every week to help out the county board?
    Of course they make some wrong decisions. Administrators at club and county level is a bit like referring – the people that should be at it are smart enough to run a mile from it. Who in their right mind would put up with the abuse.
    Hard to see in 10 years time where the volunteer administrators and referees are going to come from. Younger people today value their free time more and are not going to put up with he abuse current administrators and referees put up with.

  29. I spoke to Peter Killeen some weeks before the Galway game, told him the pitch looked great from the drone pictures etc. He did say at that time he wanted to limit the activity on the pitch for a while and this was to allow the grass roots to develop more and strengthen. I suspect new grass is pretty fragile for a while and may take longer to recover when damage or not recover at all. The CB did say they got advice from Croke Park also for similar. Now I understand the reasoning for limiting its use but the CB should have been more transparent up front as to what would be allowed and what wouldn’t – as many County teams as possible getting precedent to what recommendations allow..

  30. Well said south Mayo exile regarding volunteering but you missing the point why people are so annoyed. The CB give a silly reason why the hurlers can’t play there, then allow the footballers to train there last night. It’s shocking discrimination by a CB.
    Or maybe the groundsman in Croker told them the grass would be with Aido playing ball on it but not Keith with his hurley?? Ridiculous stuff.

  31. Thedarkyfinn, the footballers trained on it last night so that excuse is null and void. We can’t honestly think one team training on it is fine but the other can’t play there at all. The excuse simply doesn’t wash

  32. Southmayo exile, it’s not a case of running a mile from the abuse. Time is the most valuable thing we own. Therefore, why would people want to volunteer their time to work with an organisation that consistently, time and time again shoots itself in the foot, displays contempt like this towards the athletes that represent our county, has so little interest in nurturing any kind of meaningful relationships with their most loyal customers, and again and again, lands itself into the most ludicrous PR disasters that are entirely avoidable, because unfortunately it appears that they have little interest in listening to others, learning from their mistakes or working on how they communicate with the public and the media.

    In all honesty, why would anyone want to associate themselves with that, because all it serves to do is draw that abuse? For example, this could easily have been managed and yet, it has grown legs instead of being nipped in the bud. If it was a case of preserving the pitch, then put a plan in place on match day and communicate it in advance and put the resource in place to keep people off the pitch.

    Let the hurlers have their day(s). As Stephen Drake said, two Christy Ring games is not going to make or break the pitch; if needs be, sacrifice a couple of training sessions. Fair is fair and the lads have earned that much at least.

    I really do not mean to paint everyone involved with the county board with the same brush, as I know there are some really decent, smart, capable and empathetic people in there doing incredible – and thankless – work behind the scenes. Lots of us are involved in voluntary work on the ground in other organisations, and lots of us know just how thankless that is for all the hours put in! The county board is no different – there are plenty of people are there putting in the hours and doing what they believe is the best thing for the love of the game and for the future of football and hurling in Mayo. But my god, some of the decision-making and public communication does them no favours.

  33. Anne _ Marie well said,and we need an explanation for the fund raiser as well

  34. Stephenite – I wasn’t agreeing with what the CB had done I just understand the reasoning for limiting its use but the CB should have been more transparent as to what would be allowed and what wouldn’t – as many County teams as possible getting precedent to what recommendations allow. Maybe no training or heavy training and let it be kept for County matches only. It looks like they are keeping it for the Seniors only. Croke Park and Peter Killeen are far more qualified in this field (pardon the pun) so I would take what they say as pretty accurate

  35. I really thought they would back down and let the hurlers have the 2 games, but no, to make it worse then let the footballers train on the field last night. Very good pod with Stephen Drake – everything he said I agreed with.

  36. Hello! To all Mayo posters, I just want to say, Happy Mayo Day 2022, belatedly.
    I feel that as a Kerry Thoroughbred to the depths of my soul, that teaches up here, and goes back down home every weekend for the last 19 years, an outsider, and to provide a neutral contribution, I feel that I need to provide an objective contribution in relation to your county’s hurlers.
    From what I can divulge on the evolving situation, is that, the way your county’s hurlers are being treated, is beyond abysmal, it is simply out of order and completely unfair.
    Our hurlers in Kerry train on the exact pitches in Currans at the Kerry Centre of Excellence, given exactly the same perks, dinners, bonding trips, vouchers and even given a foreign holiday annually.
    We have an annual Greyhound Race Night to raise funds for our footballers and hurlers at The Kingdom Greyhound Race Track in Tralee every June, the hurling and football players are there to sign autographs and stand in for photos on the night, they even have a penalty fun competition. People love , because both codes are treated the same, Radio Kerry broadcast the event live and are there with their Simulcast Van, it’s a real unified approach, one for all, all for one, and it’s packed. I go to it, I go to see my county’s footballers and hurlers, I love them both
    We could be doing better on the field, but we have a slightly above mid range ranking on the Island of Ireland, currently.
    We have renewed interest by youngsters, new clubs have sprouted up in four footballing heartlands, because both sat down together in the interests of Kerry to devise a plan of cooperation, you even get this in warfare.
    I just wanted to outline, and be of help here in what can promote your hurlers in particular. Interest breeds success, togetherness and fairness breeds interest.
    Without sounding patronising nor condescending, I would dearly love to see Mayo do well in both codes, the hurlers in particular, as sadly, their star has fallen sharply in recent years.
    To me, the problem is with your politically charged county board, they need to treat the hurlers well, offer incentives, put them on the podium.
    I remember myself seeing Mayo defeat Kerry in the NHL in 2007 in Castlebar and 2008 on a wet day down in Tralee, under the hugely successful tenureship of the excellent Galway legend, coach, Pet Finnerty, mid noughties, ye were flying it, then he went, and ye went down big time, you have had success, there is potential, look at the records below.
    Mayo have been ‘ B All-Ireland Runner’s Up in 2004,
    Intermediate / Christy Ring Semi’s in 2008, 2009 and 2014.
    Junior Hurling Champions in 1980, 1981, 2003, 2016, 2021, Runner’s Up in 1976, 1978 and 2020.
    Mayo hurling, Mayo camomile etc, needs support and help, all Developing counties do, as I only know too well myself. You have only four senior clubs, really two, but with those achievements, no matter in how big or small they are, they have to be recognised, just like your hurlers in fulfilling their potential.
    Like a relationship of love, treat them well, and they’ll perform, surprise and achieve.

  37. With all the outrage , I’d expect a massive crowd at the next hurling game for sure.
    Do we know all the facts surrounding this decision , what if it was said for example , if you play a hurling match on this surface it will be in danger of not been fit for a football qualifier on the 21st of may if we needed it ?

  38. “displays contempt like this towards the athletes that represent our county, has so little interest in nurturing any kind of meaningful relationships with their most loyal customers”.
    That hits the nail on the head. No doubt there are some sound folk in the county board but without getting in trouble, some people in high positions really need to step aside at the next convention and let clever people with no arrogance and plenty of cop on run the show.

  39. In my opinion it also stinks of our football manager leading the charge with this one.
    If he wishes to show solidarity with the hurlers like he did with the players/GPA in not doing interviews, why doesn’t he stop training the team on the MacHale Park pitch?

  40. Nowadays everybody appears to be an expert on the topics appearing on sites such as this – no caveats or hints of equivocation proffered.
    In an era of widespread 3th/4th-level education, one would have thought that the concept of empirical evidence would inform us when deliberating.
    The County Board (CB) executive handling of the availability of McHale Park for the hurlers this coming wk-end is a self-made rod for those of us predisposed to whingeing about the CB
    That’s life, get on with it – our opinions aren’t all that precious and anyway they are probably based upon our conditioning rather than fact.
    Ref: none whatsoever – mea culpa

  41. New grass, whether it’s in a football pitch or an agricultural field needs time to tiller out. This is a process that occurs after cutting several times in the case of a pitch or grazing the case of agriculatural land.

  42. James Horan might be to blame for many things, but this controversy is not his responsibility. He is responsible for the footballers and of course he’s going to want them to train on the best surface possible.
    It’s up to the CB to weigh up their responsibilities to all teams of all codes and determine who should have access, for what purpose, when and how often.
    Not an easy job, but they’ve made a balls of it.

  43. Just a thought, but would hurls damage a very new surface, ie, take lumps and scraws from the surface, resulting in a lot of remedial work.

  44. Ridiculous blaming James Horan for this. Were the senior footballers not training in Westport on Saturday and all over the county during the league? Some people really have an axe to grind when it comes to JH.

    This is a difficult situation trying to please everyone. It’s fairly obvious the pitch was opened a couple of weeks early in order to play the Galway game at home. If it wasn’t ready for that game the county board would have been slated left right and centre by supporters and local business owners. There’s also a possibility of home qualifier games on 14th and 28th May which MacHale park will be needed for. Considering the amount of money spent, they can’t afford to permanently damage it. How would people react if more work needed to be done on it next year, as happened with the new pairc UI chaoimh?

    Reseeding a pitch isn’t like building a house where you reach a certain date and it’s finished. It needs to be lightly used and protected for the first year to allow the roots bed in fully.

  45. @Wide Ball, you wouldn’t build a house and let half of the family move in before it was “ready” and exclude the other half of the family though, would you.

  46. Looks like the county board are going to dig their heels in on this one. They are the most stubborn bunch I’ve ever known. This will rumble on as well when the papers report on the hurling game on Sat and it’s in Ballina.

    I’m absolutely flabbergasted at their ability to cock things up and their complete inability to read a room.

    @!Wide Ball – Mayo footballers trained on the pitch on Saturday morning and on Tuesday night so you’re pout about lightly used doesn’t stack up. In addition as lost will tell you a training session has far more of a toll on a pitch than a game.

  47. @Micko: Thanks for the insight, I agree that our hurlers have gotten a raw deal on this occasion, and probably on several beforehand. The progress that we saw in the 2000s and 2010s seems to have run aground a bit, and our own Cathal Freeman did an excellent piece in De Paper as to why that may be.

    Neither would this be the first or last time that our County Board have mismanaged a situation, in my view.

    BTW your back story and style of writing bears a remarkable resemblance to a poster on the Kerry GAA Boards called The Promised Land, who is very critical of Mayo GAA and indeed Mayo people. Hopefully you’re not the same poster, having a cut off us on one forum and buttering us up on here…

  48. Obviously without naming individuals I think the County board has taken a step backwards once Moffatt left.The old adage often used about politicians that if you’re smart enough to do the job you’re smart enough to know not to do it applies here but at least he gave it a go.
    From what I understand there’s a couple of trojan workers (again don’t want to name people) behind the scenes holding it all together at county board level, once they get disillusioned or run out of steam we might be in trouble.
    Running Mayo GAA is like running a multi million euro company,I’m afraid I wouldn’t entrust that to a few in the prominent positions at the moment.Tgats not a criticism of their commitment or that their heart is in the right place but of their capabilities and talents.That might sound a little harsh but that’s the reality,I somehow don’t think this will be the last unavoidable cack handed controversy.

  49. Turnip Head – Mike Finnerty said they trained in Westport on Saturday morning. It’s all very well slating the county board for being stubborn and failing to read the room. However, none of us are in charge of managing a pitch that supporters spent several hundred thousand redeveloping.

    I’m fairly sure hurling would take a bigger toll on a pitch than football too. Before everyone loses their minds it would help if we knew all the facts. If 2 hurling games are played is there a chance it wouldn’t be available for the qualifier games coming up? Would people be okay with mayo playing a home game vs Tyrone or Armagh in Hyde park in that case?

    Of course in an ideal world the senior hurlers and footballers would play their home games in MacHale park, everyone can see the fairness there. However, if the pitch isn’t 100% yet then compromises have to be made.

  50. @wideball,I agree 100%

    Its the way that was communicated and handled that’s the issue.

  51. Correct @wide ball. And agree with Sean there’s sure to be 8 thousand at Mayo’s next home hurling game.

  52. @Wideball.

    I have a sneaky feeling that if the football qualifiers involved an extra two home games rather than how it currently stands, there would be no question of those football games getting moved.

    As regards hurling destroying the pitch. In the modern game the hurl hardly contacts the surface of the pitch with force at all as the game of ground hurling is now almost non existent.

    People are talking as if the hurling players spend the game beating the hurls in to the pitch surface. That’s not the case at all.

    I don’t think time tabling clashes between football and hurling is the issue or it wasn’t the Cb’s initial excuse either.

    I believed the issue is that the hurling board were told the pitch was not available to them in case they damaged it.

    Good job our football match with Galway didn’t go to extra time. They would have had to abandon the match or the pitch might have been destroyed.

  53. @Wide Ball: There’s an argument to say that the Mayo footballers might get on better in Hyde Park against Armagh or Tyrone than in Castlebar, given how many games we have lost in MacHale Park in the past five or six years (didn’t we also beat Armagh in the Hyde during the NFL campaign?). Tyrone relegated us in MacHale Park, not so long ago.

    A lot of deflection going on here I feel. I am still to see a satisfactory explanation of why the hurlers shouldn’t play a match on our home pitch, yet it’s ok to offer it to the Galway footballers (!!!) ahead of a big championship game. Not to mention all the people hopping off the sod, during and after the Galway game.

    Also, one doesn’t have to be a rabid hurling fanatic to be able to spot inconsistency, nor injustice.

    I have, for the record, played hurling, football and handball, if that makes any difference (it shouldn’t).

  54. FW nailed it in my opinion.

    The county board have made an absolute mess of this. No idea how valid or awful the actual decision is or is not, I know nothing about grounds keeping or grass in general, but the entire communication and optics around it have been horrific.

    The moment John Cunnane’s comments were printed they needed a clear, concise but relatively detailed breakdown on their side of this. You can go into buzzword bingo and call it “framing the narrative” or you can be a bit more straightforward and call it simply being honest with folks. Either way they needed to fill in the gaps left for speculation that would, obviously did and continue to lead to growing anger and ever increasing negative publicity.

    Instead of that we’re here days later with national attention on the mess and the best we’ve gotten is a “Croke Park made us do it. Protection, innit bruv”. Feedback that was quickly followed up with rumours of the senior football team training on the ‘protected pitch’ at the same time they’re refusing the hurlers request to use it. No idea if the word on training is true or not but regardless the optics of it are horrific. If it isn’t true the fact there hasn’t been a clear statement clarifying that is an even bigger mistake than the other serious communication issues.

    I’d imagine the reality is, as others have already speculated, the hurling crowds won’t require more capacity than Ballina could accommodate and the risk of damage to a new surface costing a qualifier that would have the potential to need the capacity is too great a financial risk for them to have accepted in the name of a better playing surface. It’s not nice but I’d have to imagine it’s true. Worryingly, days into this mess, we’re still speculating on stuff like this.

    When you’re making a call like that, which goes against many of the fundamentals of the body you represent and disenfranchises a significant portion of your fee paying grass roots, you have to understand that the messaging and delivery matters. Whether that’s gaining buy in and consensus from the hurling management team when informing them of the rejection of their request, something which clearly didn’t happen successfully, or in the follow up communications explaining it to the wider public. Something which also, shockingly, hasn’t happened yet. Not even poorly.

    It’s worrying for it to be national news now and nobody from the county board figured it might be worth clarification on some fundamental points:

    – Who specifically made the call? Individual/group/voted upon after debate?
    – What information was a decision based on?
    – What’s the current usage plan for the new surface if pitch protection is the goal (vital if rumours of training are true or equally vital if they’re not so they can quickly be put to bed)?
    – At what specific points (be that in time, condition of the surface or advice from third parties) the current plan would be looked at and reconsidered?

    I felt some of the earlier complaints around communication of injuries was a touch harsh. There’s certainly an argument for treating media and opponents like mushrooms when it comes to that type of stuff, keeping them in the dark and feeding them fertilizer. Not the choice I’d have made, the level and severity of injuries that lead to us having one fit defender on the bench for a league final from our entire squad is something that needs to be talked about, but plenty of room for subjectivity on how to address that.

    Here though, in this situation, it’s certainly a bad communications fail that has made a poor situation much much worse. When you choose to ignore questions on injuries and root causes, choose to ignore questions on fundraisers, choose to ignore rumours of contract extensions and then choose to ignore a large section of your playing community without some justification on why it’s going to cause a backlash. I really hope they start to do better on comms. If they won’t trust their supporters to start talking to them, even a little, the supporters will stop trusting them too.

  55. AnnMarie said it well above…. the real problem here is the total disconnect, bordering on lack of respect, that the county board has towards the support base. If they had an inkling of supporter sentiment, or their finger on the pulse of the average joe-soap supporter, then they would know the outrage that this is causing. The thing is the CB doesn’t and so it finds itself, yet again, is a shitstorm that could have easily been avoided by someone taking control of the situation and issuing a press release explaining their decision.
    There is obviously a reason, and it may be a very honest and techical one with regards to the pitch surface and early excessive use. Well if that is the reason just come out and say it! Explain the reasoning behind the decision, stand by it and then we can all like it or lump it, but at least we’d know the thinking behind it. Maybe then all the rumour and inuendo can disappear.
    But it is here where the CB regularly lets itself down, and this shitstorm comes on the back of a general feeling within the supporters of being fed-up with many of the CBs decisions. Club league fixtures essentially parked until Mayo have finished, the 40+ squad of players that Horan regularly keeps and so their clubs have to do without them, season tickets pricing and the terrible seating allocation that goes with them (and I don’t accept that the Mayo CB has no input into those issues), Horan constantly sniping at supporters (e.g. we’re too quiet one year, then too expectant the next), the county secretary and former PRO embarrassing themselves with very public spats (e.g. Shoe the Donkey), fund raising events with CB members and former players in attendance but question marks about the destination of the funding…. the list goes on. I for one, and I don’t think I am alone in this, am fed up with amateur operation of the CB. Not just now but we can go back the decades too. I think this hurling decision and the lack of transparency behind it has just pissed off the support base a little too much at this stage.
    For all the slagging off we do about the Rossies it would pay our CB to look across the border and see how a proper organization is ran. They put us to shame.

  56. Isn’t that the problem Wideball.

    You say if the pitch isn’t 100% then compromises have to be made.

    A compromise is a concession between two parties. I didn’t catch what concession the football board made except to tell the hurlers that McHale Park is not currently available to them (or am I missing something).

    @ 2 hops.
    You might need to change your handle to 1 hop in case the 2nd hop damages the pitch surface.

    You are correct however. If a county team is mistreated, shunned, like a third class citizen, it is hard to see how hurling attendances will ever grow.
    You can be sure as well, as soon as the footballers go through a lean patch the football attendances and the travelling troupe will fall off dramatically.
    You see, to continue to have a massive following even in times when a team is not firing on all cylinders would take loyalty from the supporters.
    To allow the county hurlers play on McHale Park after its revamp would take a little loyalty from the football board.
    If the football board cannot show loyaty now towards the hurlers, then there isn’t much of a template there for the football supporters to show loyalty to the football team once the football performances begin to drop off.

    There have been plenty of years where attendances at Mayo football games were poor, and not in the too distant past either.

  57. On the road again – I’m afraid that I can’t, for legal reasons, allow that comment to go up. Suffice to say, though, that I agree completely with the sentiments you’ve expressed in it. Let’s leave it at that.

  58. It Means Nothing to Me – I cringe when people point to MacHale park as a reason for us losing games. In case you’ve forgotten, Tyrone also beat us in croke park and Omagh in recent times. We beat Armagh in a 2019 qualifier too in castlebar. Do you think playing in Hyde park was the reason for us beating Armagh this year? Or was it down to Paddy Durcan and Jordan Flynn coming up with 3 unbelievable scores in the last 5 minutes? It was the latter IMO.

    I remember a qualifier some years ago in castlebar and they were pleading with supporters on the tannoy not to invade the pitch afterwards as Galway and Roscommon had to play the connacht final there the next day. Of course nobody listened and several thousand went on the pitch at full time. So it wouldn’t have been straight forward keeping everyone off the pitch the last day either.

  59. I don’t agree with that at all, Wide Ball. I would definitely say that the narrow dimensions of MacHale Park has definitely been a hindrance to us in recent years, particularly when you compare how we get on against similar teams in other stadia.

    For instance, Ros and Galway have beaten us several times (cumulatively) in MacHale Park (132 x 82m) in the last five years or so, only for us to pulverise the same teams in Croke Park (145 x 90m). We have also beaten Tyrone both in Omagh (142 x 86) and HQ (145 x 88m) in recent years, but I struggle to remember the last time we defeated them in Castlebar.

    The team that lined out against Armagh in 2019 (when we were probably fortunate to eke out a win, by the way) was considerably different to the one who would be likely to line out against them in a few weeks’ time, if we were to draw them in the qualifiers.

    But yeah, I do think that the little bit of extra space in the Hyde (145 x 90m) would suit us better, given that we struggle to deal with massed defences. Not much chance of it happening, of course, due to the Benjamins.

  60. While I do agree that the county board are a disaster at times, although they don’t deserve the abuse they get from people here and on social media, I can’t help but think as to why there is such a big hassle about the venue for this hurling game.

    For the past 10 years the surface in Ballina was by far the best in the county, it will be second fiddle to McHale park now obviously but the surface there is immaculate, I’ve played on it myself numerous times, so the surface isn’t an issue.

    I would be greatly shocked if there are more than 300 people at this game on Saturday. Why should they open McHale park for this amount of people? Ballina is the ideal ground for this size of a crowd. Look at some of the lower division hurling games on this weekend. Monaghan hurlers are playing in Iniskeen, Armagh hurlers are playing in Crossmaglen! We don’t hear their hurling teams complaining

    The pitch in Castlebar obviously isn’t in good enough shape for the hurling game. After spending that amount of money on it, I can see why they don’t want it played there.

  61. It Means Nothing to Me – still don’t buy it about the pitch dimensions being the problem. We only got a draw with Roscommon in croke park and hammered them in the replay. Did the pitch change in the space of a week? Got a very lucky 1 point win vs Tyrone in croke park during Rochford’s time. Only scored 13 points and they missed a load of chances. Don’t see how croke park helped us there. We also hammered Galway in tuam stadium which looks a small pitch by county standards.

  62. Hello! IT MEANS NOTHING TO ME poster, contradicting your post title! So I’m a (POI) Person of Interest to you! Are you a Double Agent? Under the name of Exiled, on the Kerry Forum? Charachter Assassination Mission towards me Sherlock? Double jobbing for the SBU, FSB, Mossad? A lot of trawling through another county’s forum, so you must have some connection down there, hence why I ask. I’m not on trial here, and your not fit to be my judge.
    Yes, I am whom I am on that forum in which I joined only in February, that’s all, like I only joined this a few weeks ago, as I don’t engage at all whatsoever on any social media platforms, only whattsapp. No twitter, no Facebook, by choice, I don’t have the time.
    I cannot let this go in having to pull rank with you, in having making assertions that I’m cutting Mayo people and Mayo GAA up on that forum down there, and being nice to said up here on this one.
    Anything I state is from face to face, experiential facts, by interacting with people, be it on the streets, connections, relations. Firstly, stating that the two people’s of two counties are different, which we are, based on facts and my observations on my weekly commutes, between the two county’s over many years, nothing wrong with that. Laois people are different to Wexford people, Kerry people are different to Cork people, Galway people are different to Sligo people and so on, I can’t help it, if I’ve an interest in Anthropology! in which I have. Stating that I met some Mayo fans that made disparaging remarks about our two county grounds, I actually agree, both our grounds are in a bad way, I’ve criticised this on my own forum. Mayo GAA, I just stated recently about my own take on your hurlers, Aidan O’ Shea too, as he should be doing much better for such a high profile and physical man of his calibre, so I’ve nothing to apologise for, it’s free will, free speech, we live in a democracy, just incase you missed that.
    Come on in to the room in school, IT MEANS NOTHING TO ME, I have both a Mayo and Kerry car flags up, even Mayo and Kerry tramlines overhead circumnavigating the room. I respect where I am you see. I’m honest, I call a spade, a spade, which is the way it should be. It’s a pity you only concentrated on three nuanced examples I stated, but ommiting the good things I say about Mayo and it’s people down there and up here.
    As a neutral in last years All- Ireland, I was really down after Mayo losing the final v Tyrone more so than Kerry losing to Tyrone in the semi final, I’ve said this to lots of people up here and down at home. Proof if ever needed that while I’m not perfect, because I’m learning everyday and will til the day I die, I aspire as best as I can to be that Paragon of Virtue. Anyone that knows will tell you, that I am a man of honour. I always shout for Mayo in finals, as a neutral when they are in other matches, be it hurling or football.

    So sorry Willie Joe and all the other Mayo posters, who have had to endure this rant by me, but I just had to defend my character here. Apologies for taking up the post and writing time.

  63. Club Championship pod is up. Mike, Rob, Ger and Ed provide instant reaction to the Senior, Intermediate and Junior football draws.

  64. Re McHale Park …. We lost match’s in McHale Park because our opposition was better than us on the day, can’t remember any defeat there recently that our opponents didn’t deserve to win.. We now have a wonderful playing surface, one less excuse for some to use. .. It’s narrower and shorter than Croke Park of course. But is the League Final so long ago for people to have already forgotten how poorly we played on it’s sacred turf.. We have lost to Galway, in McHale Park recently, in almost exactly the same same way we lost to Tyrone in the All Ireland final.. Our weakness is there for all to see, if good team’s set up in a certain defensive way against Mayo, we don’t seem to an alternative to the running game to break it down, not for a few years anyhow . And it doesn’t matter what county ground we play on… That’s unfortunately is the evidence from the last few years, regardless of where we play!

  65. @Micko: Please calm down, observing similarities is not proof of anything sinister. I just noted that a poster with your writing style and back story is quite critical of Mayo GAA and its supporters on there, and seems a lot more conciliatory on here. If you are as fond of us as you say, then good luck to you.

    No, I don’t post on the Kerry Forum, although I do like to read it when we’re playing Kerry, usually it’s good to get an opposition view on the big match. No love lost for us on there generally, it would have to be said…

    My last post on this, as I don’t wish to divert the thread any further.

  66. OK, It Means Nothing To Me.
    All is forgiven, we’ll move on, just had to defend my good name in clarifying examples. Apologies if I have overreacted in doing so.
    Point taken though.
    All’s fair in love and war.
    Mayo people are just as GAA mad and have an insatiable appetite for their county in football, just as much as we have in Kerry.
    I only wish we had the same following and support that you have up here in going far and wide in supporting your county. I can only dream of this. I have been critical of this on my own forum. I’m fair and consistent.
    Any Mayo posters I’ve ever engaged with on here and one joined on the Kerry Forum are Absolute Gentlemen.

    Let’s just wish both of county’s well It Means Nothing To Me.

    Thanks and take it easy man.

    My last post on this issue on this form Willie Joe. End of. We forgive, we wish eachothet well and move on.
    ??

  67. Sound job, Micko. I’d usually say that I’d look forward to meeting the Kingdom again, but perhaps from a Mayo point of view, it’s not such a good idea after the league final experience 😉

  68. Look! It Means Nothing To Me, the biggest of counties can lose massively on off days, Kerry Tyrone in 2003 All-Ireland Semi final and Meath in 2001, Cork in 1990.
    It was very un Mayo like to be honest in the League Final, while I was happy to win the Final, it was muted, as I said in the Kerry Forum, I have to face Mayo people and students in work the next day.
    I kept contentment at winning the cup as privately as I could.
    Mayo did not perform at all, Horan got all his tactics completely wrong. The injuries killed ye.
    I would be extremely worried if we met ye again.
    Always a sting in retaliation. O’ Donoghue, big fan and all I am of his, he cannot do it all on his own, Mayo are lacking forwards and accuracy. Great warriors, must the means must justify the ends too.
    I have a policy with Mayo and all counties wherever I am, if Mayo are playing Kerry, I will wear a Kerry jacket in school on the Friday.
    However, win, lose that weekend, I refuse I wear any Kerry colours on the Monday. I just don’t believe in that, not nice to be rubbing faces of the vanquished in it, or would I wish my face to be rubbed.
    2004 and 2006 All- Ireland wins, I refused to wear any Kerry colours in school the following Monday and for many months after.
    Being humble and modest is key to gaining respect and being an ambassador for your county.
    If you win, celebrate it privately, but I would never , ever be triumphalist, nor ever rub people’s faces in it. It’s just plain wrong.
    You win, move on, you lose, move on.
    What part of Msyo do you Hail from?

  69. Mchale park will be rockin next week now with the hurlers set to face Derry at the famous venue .

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