The Mayo footballers look set to be the first county to defy Croke Park and deny clubs access to their players in April.
With the introduction of the 'Super 8s' came a master fixture plan which freed up the month of April so that clubs could have access to their players before the championship kicks off in May. The Division 1 and 2 football finals will take place on April 1st, Easter Sunday, and the opening championship game is not until May 6 when Leitrim play New York and Sligo play London.
A week later Mayo take on Galway in the Connacht quarter-final, but Anthony Hennigan of the Western People has reported Rochford will not make his players available for the month with a training camp scheduled for April.
Seamus Tuohy, Mayo County Board's vice-chairman spoke at a meeting of club managers within the county last week and said
We're told that the Mayo team is going on a week-long camp and that actually they will not be available to clubs after that in preparation for the Connacht championship match against Galway.
Last season Stephen Rochford brought a 31-man squad plus 5 development players to Carton House in Kildare for a three-day training camp. That occurred in early May, with their first game against Sligo occurring on the 21st of May. For Rochford to deploy a similar timeframe, next year's training camp would have to be pushed back into April.
The punishment for Mayo should they pursue this avenue is a rather trivial one, they will lose home advantage for their first National League game in 2019.
The Club Players Association (CPA) recently urged the GAA to monitor counties during the month of April and issue "appropriate sanction" should county managers defy this rule.
Writing in his Irish Mail on Sunday column last month, Marc O'Se forewarned this might happen:
While it is being done for the right reason, opening up April exclusively to clubs may not work as well in practice as it does in theory.
It is unlikely Mayo are the only county planning to utilise April and it will be interesting to see what Croke Park does in response to that.
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