Lots of reaction (both positive and negative) to last weeks piece on amalgamations at juvenile level. Some felt it was a case of sour grapes on my behalf because Glen Emmets were beaten in both the U17 competitions by amalgamated outfits while others were in agreement that the criteria to determine which clubs or how many clubs can amalgamate needs to be looked at.
As far as I’m aware the current process involves clubs getting together themselves and bringing their amalgamation proposal to the Minor Board for approval. Rather than being reactive to this process, some are wondering could the Minor Board be more proactive. Is it possible the Board could present ‘amalgamation opportunities’ to those clubs who are interested in joining together? Foireann, the GAA’s new online management system, which we’ve all become very familiar with over the last 12 months, holds registration details for all juvenile member in every club. At the touch of a button you can instantly see what playing numbers are each age group in every club in the county. The Minor Board could use this information to present amalgamation opportunities to interested parties in advance of the season starting. This process would mean that only those clubs who are short on numbers would be eligible for amalgamation.
Another suggestion, one that would not be popular with current amalgamations, was that no amalgamated teams could enter the ‘A’ championship or Division One of the league. One suggestion that could allow more teams field on their own was to reduce the playing numbers for each competition. For example, in the U17 grade have 15-a-side for ‘A’ championship and Division One of league, 13-a-side for ‘B’ championship and Division 2 and 11-aside for a possible ‘C’ championship and Division Three.
This is a hot and emotive topic based on the calls, texts and emails I received over the last 7 days. It’s a problem that urgently needs to be addressed well in advance of the 2022 season.
This is a make or break weekend for sixteen clubs across the county.
At the top of the tree vying for the Blue Riband prize of the Joe Ward Cup are Naomh Mairtin, Newtown Blues, Ardee St Marys and St Mochtas.
While there’ll be great interest in the outcome of Sunday evenings Ardee/Louth Village game in Haggardstown, top billing of the weekend is reserved for earlier in the day at Dunleer with the heavyweight clash of current champions Naomh Martin and record senior championship winners Newtown Blues.
The Jocks are in flying form this term and have racked up huge totals on their two previous visits to Dunleer in recent weeks.
However, as mentioned in last week’s column, there could be a slight danger that the Monasterboice men have not been tested yet in this season’s championship. Blues on the other hand have had to dig deep in this year’s campaign, particularly against Dundalk Gaels and Dreadnots.
I’m not sure what attendance restrictions will be in place but the capacity of the Shamrock Hill venue could be seriously tested such is the level of interest in this game.
Blues were my choice from the outset so I’m sticking with them to advance to the decider, but there will be little or nothing it.
I’m going with the underdog later in the day also. St Mochta’s will have learned loads about themselves in their three championship matches to date. While they slipped late on to that Carl Gillespie goal in the opening game against St Marys, they saw out two epic tussles against St Pats and Mattock.
If they can prevent St Mary’s getting goals than I fancy them to progress. Again there will very little in it.
As always, the Intermediate grade is wide open with any of the four remaining teams capable of winning it. Based on form this season St Fechin’s are outright favourites but that’s no guarantee they will get over the challenge of Hunterstown in Ardee on Saturday.
The favourites tag has not sat well with Termonfeckin in recent seasons, but they should have enough firepower to advance. Tadhg McEneaney and Daniel McKeown have really stepped up for Kilkerley in the absence of Shane Lennon and I think they will have the measure of Robert Kearney’s Cooley.
The Junior championship has seen some really great football this season and more of the same is expected in the semi-final double header at Stabannon on Friday night.
Na Piarsaigh should have enough in reserve for John Mitchell’s but the other contest between Glyde and Glen Emmets will be much closer with the Tullyallen side just about getting the nod.
At the bottom rung of the ladder, survival is all that will be going through the minds of players and supporters from the remaining four clubs in action this weekend.
There will be no glamour or fanfare on show at these two relegation dogfights. More often than not, it is the team who wants it most who prevail in these one-off encounters. On paper Dundalk Gaels should comfortably see off O’Connells but if they put in a repeat performance of last Saturday’s game against the Geraldines then they could be in big trouble.
Similarly Roche should be good enough to account for Naomh Fionnbarra, but you just never know with these type of games.
I’ll sit on the fence for both.