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Mayo left in the dark after locals object to floodlights

LAST year, the National Football League was launched in a blaze of lights and fireworks, but the plug is set to be pulled on the planned floodlit showpiece for the start of this year's competition.

Croke Park officials had hoped to kick-start the league with a televised NFL opener between Mayo and neighbours Galway under floodlights in Castlebar.

However, the night-time fixture is in doubt as Castlebar Town Council's decision to grant retention planning permission for the €10m McHale Park development is being appealed to An Bord Pleanala on behalf of the McHale Road residents.

The game is due to be the first played under floodlights at the revamped Mayo venue on Saturday, February 6, and is scheduled to be screened live on Setanta Sports.

Mayo County Board chairman James Waldron says the match will go ahead at McHale Park, but cannot yet say whether it will be played on Saturday evening or Sunday afternoon.

"As of now it's still fixed for Saturday night, but it would really be down to whether we are allowed use the lights or not," he explained.

A spokesperson for An Bord Pleanala said they hope to deal with the matter "on or before April 29".

Meanwhile, speculation surrounds the inter-county futures of Mayo's Billy Joe Padden and Austin O'Malley who've both been excluded from John O'Mahony's squad for the Connacht FBD League. Padden is now based in Down with O'Malley in Dublin.

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