GAA Letter to the Sports Editor

Historic Thursday night game criticised

John Connolly

Reporter:

John Connolly

Historic Thursday night game criticised

Action from Carrigallen and Cloone in Ballinamore last Saturday. Photo by Willie Donnellan

Leitrim GAA will host it's first ever Thursday night Club Championship clash this week with the meeting of Fenagh St. Caillin's and Aughavas in Cloone.

The meeting  is the first time a prominent club championship match has taken place on a Thursday night and should draw an interested crowd following on the big numbers who attended the Senior clash of Aughawillan and Mohill last Friday night.

Gortletteragh and Ballinamore meet this Friday and Ballinamore are again in action on August 11, when they face their neighbours Aughawillan in an intriguing clash.

However, the move to host Thursday games came in for criticism on social media with Declan Clancy commenting “Just when things can't get much worse they find a way to make it worse.”

The Leitrim Observer also received a letter from former Carrigallen player Ciaran Mollohan who said he was “shocked” by the decision to schedule a club game for a Thursday night.

In the letter, Ciaran says “Given how demographics have evolved surely Leitrim players living away from the county should be given every opportunity to play with their home clubs? Championship football on Thursdays or Fridays discourages this and this is a basic barrier to improving the quality of Leitrim performances.

“If one of my three sons showed the interest in returning to represent Carrigallen or indeed St. Joseph’s on the GAA pitch in the future, given how the club fixtures are currently scheduled I will not be encouraging him sadly. Surely this is an easy fix though for the Leitrim County Board?”

The full text of Ciaran’s letter is as follows:

Dear Sir,

I read with great interest the articles in recent weeks as to how to improve the plight of Gaelic football in Leitrim and I would dearly love to see a marked improvement in the performance of our county in the game.

In the context of the some of the good recommendations put forward, I was shocked to read the headlines announcing club championship football on Thursdays and the finer details also revealing Friday night matches.

I played senior championship football for Carrigallen from 1993 until 1999 and again from 2003 to 2004 inclusive – nine seasons in all.  Of the nine seasons, I lived in Dublin for eight of them and travelled home on a weekly or twice - weekly basis to train and play. In the end, I could no longer balance work and personal life with playing football at home and therefore my dream to win a senior county championship with Carrigallen went unfulfilled.

One of the reasons I couldn’t balance playing in Leitrim while living in Dublin was how club fixtures were managed. There wasn’t a reasonable schedule for the club player or the schedule wasn’t adhered to or matches were fixed for times other than the desired time frame from Saturday evening through to Sunday afternoon.  

My playing days in Leitrim coincided with some of the glory days for Leitrim football and a key contributor to this was the strength of the club scene and the players it produced. Declan Darcy, our gallant leader, managed to balance living in Dublin with playing for Aughawillan for a remarkable number of years during that time.

Given how demographics have evolved surely Leitrim players living away from the county should be given every opportunity to play with their home clubs? Championship football on Thursdays or Fridays discourages this and this is a basic barrier to improving the quality of Leitrim performances.

While mid-week championship matches are embedded in my adopted county’s (Dublin) club scene and while its overall approach to club fixtures is not without flaws, there are not the same percentage of potential players living outside the county and it is easier to justify mid-week matches.

If one of my three sons showed the interest in returning to represent Carrigallen or indeed St. Joseph’s on the GAA pitch in the future, given how the club fixtures are currently scheduled I will not be encouraging him sadly.

Surely this is an easy fix though for the Leitrim County Board?

Yours truly,

Ciarán Mollahan