IT may have raised a few eyebrows last week when St Margaret's put forward a motion to enter a combined Fingal team into next year's Senior Football championship, but if nothing else it will have brought the debate to the table.
The Dublin County board is due to meet this week to discuss the matter, but St Margarets chairman Ivan Sutton is in no doubts about the proposal's merits. More than ever the smaller Fingal clubs are struggling to hold onto their players due to the economic climate while the chance to play senior football with a bigger club is also tempting to many.
As such losing one player can impact greatly and Margarets themselves, having pushed for senior league status last year, now find themselves in a crunch game with St Pats Donabate to stay up. As such the Fingal Gael project if it is given the go ahead may re-ignite the fortunes of several clubs including Margarets. 'Realistically you are doing your best to stay in Division 3 and keep your better players,' said the former Margarets manager last week. 'But lads go away due to emigration nearly every year.
'We would have lost more in the eighties. Top of my head I lost two brothers who went to America. Ciaran who was on the Dublin panel went away and he was a big loss to the club. 'Every family was affected and we probably lost eight or ten players. And because we are a small parish we just don't have the pick that the bigger clubs have. 'But every club has two or three good players who could possibly become good senior players. And the way I look at this is that it would give them the chance to play at senior championship level. 'I thought of it last year, but didn't really do anything about it.
This year we put a proposal together and it's in at the county board as we speak.' So far the reception from the clubs has been good, but the question of fixture congestion not to mention training schedules may prove a stumbling block. Nonetheless Sutton believes these are minor obstacles which can be overcome. 'They will have to work with us a little bit. If you are a manager of club team and you have your players training with Fingal that can be a bit of a headache.
But look, we never said it was going to be easy. 'There is going to be problems there and it might cheese off the manager of a team, but they are things that can be got around. 'The way I look at it if your lad is training harder to get on the Fingal team he is only going to improve his form for his own club.' St Margarets, more than most, have been affected by the downturn in the economic climate, but Sutton has nonetheless been impressed by the commitment of the players.
'A lot of the lads who grew up in St Margarets would be in the building trade, but they would have to move out to Navan or Ashbourne because its very hard to get planning permission here because it's so near to the airport. 'So the lads are training there three nights a week. They are going to work at six o'clock and coming here at half six and then they are getting home at ten o'clock. 'A lot of them have young families so fair play to them for doing that. That's what it is. But it's a struggle to keep things going.' Returning to Fingal Gaels, Sutton believes that selection will be based on club form which should be of benefit to both clubs. 'It will be based on club form as well as ability. It's not a case of playing for Fingal and then not going back to your own club and put in the effort. It's not going to work that way and we are very wary of that.'