The Mayo County Board have acceded to a request by senior manager Stephen Rochford to postpone club championship games fixed for this weekend until the week after the September 18 All-Ireland final, writes John Fogarty of the Irish Examiner.
In a joint statement released late last night, the board executive with Rochford’s management team said they had taken the decision in an attempt to give Mayo the best opportunity of preparing uninterrupted for the final against Dublin or Kerry.
The move came after injured full-back Ger Cafferkey published a post on Twitter calling on Mayo’s competitions control committee to move the games to a later date.
Former player David Brady had on Monday made a direct plea to the board executive to reschedule the games in the best interests of the senior football team.
Last night’s joint statement read: “Following discussions since Mayo’s victory over Tipperary in last Sunday’s All-Ireland SFC semi-final, it has been decided to postpone next weekend’s round of Mayo SFC games.
"All IFC games will go ahead as scheduled except the following which involve members of the Mayo senior panel: Bohola Moy Davitts v Swinford; Westport v Shrule-Glencorrib; and Belmullet v Burrishoole.
“This has not been an easy decision for all concerned as we were faced with a Catch 22 situation. Everyone involved in Mayo GAA wishes to support the senior football team as effectively as we can in the run-up to September 18 – and, equally, everyone is fully aware of the impact a postponement at such late notice will have on club players and managements.
“However, after carefully considering the various issues involved, and acknowledging that there was no simple solution, we feel that the best interests of Mayo football will be served on this occasion by postponing the above games so that the team can prepare for the All-Ireland final.
“The primary reason for doing so is to allow the team the four weeks of preparation between now and the final so that they can represent all of us in optimum condition on September 18. We hope all Mayo GAA people will understand the well-founded motivation for our decision and rally around the team for the next few weeks.
“It is proposed to now hold the next round of SFC games on the weekend after the All-Ireland final (Sept. 24/25th). The IFC games mentioned above will also go ahead on that weekend also. The quarter finals in both the SFC & IFC championship will go ahead on 1/2nd October.”
The move by Mayo will give more oxygen to the belief the All-Ireland senior championships have to finish earlier than the current mid-September date, while it raises further issues about how county interests are discommoding clubs.
Cafferkey’s opinion is known to be shared by several of his Mayo team-mates. He tweeted: “I know the honesty that is in that group of players. When they are on club duty – they will be dedicated to the club. However, asking them to switch their focus from club to All-Ireland will break their preparation chain.
“It also relinquishes an advantage that we have that might be worth a point or two come the 18th of September. Releasing players to clubs this week means that we will have to push recovery into next week, squeeze in tactical sessions and lose a week of intense training.
“I say this as a lad back looking for club success – the focus has to be on the county success. I firmly believe that there’s still time to do the right thing for all of Mayo GAA.”