The Dubs to test Mayo’s metal on Saturday night

Running the champions: Alan Dillon breaks away from the challenge of Paul Casey in last year’s league meeting in Croke Park. Photo: Sportsfile.

Running the champions: Alan Dillon breaks away from the challenge of Paul Casey in last year’s league meeting in Croke Park. Photo: Sportsfile.

A crowd of some 10,000 people are expected to descend on McHale Park on Saturday evening, when the All Ireland champions Dublin come to town for the second round of the Allianz Football League. Tomorrow night’s game will throw in at the earlier time of 6.30pm from the rest of Mayo’s Saturday night league schedule to avoid a clash with Ireland’s RBS Six Nations game with France in Paris which gets under way at 8pm. But the attraction of a Saturday night game and the box office attraction of last year’s All Ireland champions is expected to swell the attendance in McHale Park.

Mayo will be looking to make it two out of two after their six point win over Laois in O’Moore Park last Saturday night. That win by half a dozen points was built upon a strong showing in the second half, and going into the break in the lead thanks to good fortune as much as play on the field. Mayo will be sweating on the fitness of full back Ger Cafferkey who was forced to limp off injured just over a quarter of an hour into the game, the Ballina man will be a loss if he does not recover in time for tomorrow night’s encounter. Castlebar Mitchels’ Eoghan Reilly filled in for Cafferkey for the remainder of the game against Laois, and despite struggling under the high ball early on, he will not back down from the challenge if called upon.

The Dubs will be looking to get their first points on the board after Kerry clipped their wings last weekend with a six point win over the All Ireland champions in Croke Park. The Dubs are the current benchmark nationally and Mayo manager James Horan will be keen to see how his side measure up against the All Ireland champions even at this early stage of the year.

Who Horan picks in his starting line up will not be known until late this evening according Mayo GAA PRO Aidan McLoughlin who told the Advertiser: “It’ll be late tomorrow night [Friday] before the team is announced, they are training on Friday night and a number of the lads need to be assessed who picked up a number of knocks.”

Plenty of events lined up for the night

Mayo GAA PRO Aidan McLoughlin said he is confident that the game and the evening as a whole will be a big success. “We’ve been working flat out all week and we’ve a number of things lined up for the night. We’re expecting Dublin to bring a big crowd down with them as they normally do. We’ll be playing music from around an hour before throw in, to build up the atmosphere. We also have a number of national school kids who will be taking part in the respect campaign who will line up and welcome the teams out on to the field and there will be a game at half time.”

The official renaming of McHale Park to Elverys McHale Park will not be happening on Saturday night, as McLoughlin explained: “That has to be approved by the management committee of the GAA in Croke Park, it’s not expected that there will be any problem but they aren’t meeting until Friday [today] and it would leave us to much short of time to get it all ready. We will be doing it at one of the later home games, maybe the Cork game which is another game we will be doing a lot of promotion for.” As for the proposed new jersey that was rumoured could get an airing on Saturday that will not happen now according to McLoughlin, who said that despite initial movement on it, it did not come together in time.

Still no thawing of cold war between supporters club and county board

While it is the footballers from the capital who are making their way to McHale Park on Saturday night, it was the supporters club from the capital who were making the headlines at the February county board meeting. At the meeting the delegates from the clubs around the county voted to adopt a letter that had been sent to Club Mayo Dublin by the county board which said that Club Mayo Dublin was no longer entitled to raise funds for either the county board or any Mayo GAA team, and withdrew any status that the supporters’ club had previously presumed to have, with immediate effect.

The reasoning for this action was than under the agreement reached by the county board with the national finance committee in Croke Park, in regards to the budget proposals for 2012 to 2016, that had to come about following the financial situation the county board found itself in, a number of conditions were laid down by the powers that be on the national finance committee. One of those conditions was the transfer of all funds from all Mayo GAA supporters clubs and 75 per cent of funds from the divisional boards to the new Chairde Mhaigheo supporters’ club. The transfer of funds had been completed by the other supporters clubs in Mayo and London, and the divisional boards, but Club Mayo Dublin had not done so, and in a series of correspondence said they would not be in a position to do anything until March at the earliest. However the national finance committee insisted that it be done before then, and when Club Mayo Dublin did not comply the county board, backed by the club delegates in Mayo, took last week’s course of action. There has been no thawing of the stance on the issue in the past week according Mayo GAA PRO, Aidan McLoughlin who told the Mayo Advertiser yesterday: “There has been no movement from them at all yet on it. They were told two weeks ago what would happen if they didn’t follow the directive that was sent down from Croke Park in relation to the fundraising activity. They have an annual review coming up in March, but in reality that could be too late for us to draw down funds from Croke Park. The management committee in Croke Park are meeting on Friday and if they see or think the Club Mayo Dublin are still fund-raising for Mayo GAA then they can stop the next payment of funds that we need to get from them, around €200,000 mark, to pay off the contractors as has been agreed.”

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