‘We can’t afford to let 15 or 16 teams fall off wagon’

Two-time All-Ireland winning manager John O’Mahony wants to see a redistribution of the GAA’s finances to assist weaker counties.

The association has commenced an equalisation of funding but the former Galway, Leitrim and Mayo boss, who this evening accepts a Gaelic Writers Association Hall of Fame award, says the process needs to be accelerated.

Having been involved in an advisory capacity with Carlow and Leitrim whom he guided to a Connacht title 23 years ago, he fears a lot of football counties will “fall off the wagon” if they aren’t assisted.

“I’m involved on the periphery with Leitrim and the concern I would have is that the people would see that they’re not as close (to making a breakthrough) as our team was when I took it over.

“That time they had won a provincial U21 and an All-Ireland ‘B’ which at the time was certainly a stepping-stone for that team. I think there is a danger now, and it’s a major challenge for the GAA, that the gap will keep growing.

“Counties also need to be proactive in terms of helping themselves, but there needs to be a redistribution of resources to help counties to maintain a connection.

"It’s not just the weak counties that need to close a gap, some of the stronger counties have a gap to close now as well because an All-Ireland championship with only a handful of teams having a chance of competing with Dublin isn’t the way we want to see things continue.

"Football has been universal in most counties and most provinces, and we can’t afford to let 15 or 16 teams fall off the wagon.”

Regarding his native Mayo, O’Mahony feels they would have pushed on for more success had they won last month’s All-Ireland final.

“I have always said that if they had won one along the way, they’d have a few more by now.

"Even if Mayo had happened to beat Dublin last year I think they would have retained the title this year.

"But the simple fact of the matter in this year’s All-Ireland was that Dublin had the knack of success and Mayo didn’t. It’s a regret that I couldn’t win an All-Ireland with Mayo, but I’d never say either that I would love to swap one of the All-Irelands I won with Galway for winning one with Mayo.

"I’d love to have the Mayo one but I will always treasure the success I had with Galway and Leitrim as well.”

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