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Mayo standing deep in the red

MAYO’S cash-strapped county board has been given two weeks to come up with a plan to service the massive debt incurred in the redevelopment of McHale Park.

Up to now, the board has been struggling to pay off approximately €400,000 per year - mostly in interest-only payments - to service a €6m loan from Ulster Bank and two separate loans from Croke Park amounting to €4.5m.

But it’s understood this figure will now rise to almost €1m per year, and Croke Park officials met with the board’s chief officers on Monday amid growing concerns about Mayo’s ability to meet its increasing obligations.

“It is tough but it is managable,” insisted Seán Feeney, the long-serving 65-year-old official who retired yesterday from his role as full-time Mayo secretary. “We might have to restructure a bit, but that is it.”

The stark scenario was laid out to club delegates at Monday night’s board meeting. The facelift of the 38-000-capacity Castlebar venue has cost €16.637m to date with, worryingly, another €1.6m of bills still outstanding.

ÀLL-IRELAND champions Dublin will dust off the Christmas cobwebs with an O’Byrne Cup opener away to Carlow on January 8, while the Sky Blue hurlers will launch their Walsh Cup campaign against either Laois or DIT on January 29. All-Ireland kingpins Kilkenny face Wexford or NUIG on the same date.