Christmas lunch was a cracking event

December Fridays in Dublin city centre are always special, with the shops, streets, restaurants and bars thronged, as day merges into evening and on into night. It’s a great time to be out in town, with a real pre-Christmas buzz in the air.

Which made the timing for yesterday’s inaugural Christmas lunch with the Mayo senior team, hosted by Cairde Mhaigheo in the sumptuous surroundings of the Great Room in the Shelbourne Hotel, pretty much spot-on. Over 250 Mayo GAA people – current and former players, management, County Board, sponsors and supporters – sat down to lunch in the Shelbourne yesterday, which was followed by a lively Q&A discussion hosted by Mike Finnerty and featuring a number of players and officials, as well as manager Stephen Rochford.

It was a cracking occasion, the principal aim of which was to raise funds for the team’s upcoming Asian holiday, where a strongly positive and upbeat mood was evident throughout. There was plenty of talk about on-field events, and the Holy Grail we all still long to reach, but it was also a great opportunity to mix and mingle with like-minded people in the relaxed, festive surroundings.

The intention, I gather, is that the event is an annual one. This is an eminently sensible move, given the large Mayo community in Dublin and the ready opportunity that exists for fundraising to be done in such convivial circumstances.

Hats off, then, to Cairde Mhaigheo, including the folk from London whom it was good to see were there in such strong numbers yesterday, and to the County Board for hosting a hugely successful event. Well done too to the players and management for getting so strongly behind it. I’d say I’m not the only one who has put a mark in the diary for twelve months time in anticipation of next year’s festive gathering.

49 thoughts on “Christmas lunch was a cracking event

  1. What kind of cash did they raise do you reckon WJ? Great to see some initiative, get up and go. I see the CB turned a good profit of over 200k this year

  2. I don’t think any figure has been mentioned yet, Mark, but I’d reckon it’ll be substantial enough. The Charlestown event up here at the start of the year raised, I think, more than €20k and yesterday’s event was a bigger one so I’d say the amount raised would reflect this.

  3. Dia daoibh
    Yes it was a great occasion as WJOE said. It was great to mingle with our great warriors and to pay tribute to the fantastic Alan Dillon. What a great and dedicated loyal servant for over 14 or 15 years. He was very gracious and clearly will be missed as he was a leader in the team for so long and it was evident that he will be missed by his co?leagues. I noted that SR will not be giving him his number one (if he runs for the Dail) as he said that he was living in a different constituency!
    I noted the camaraderie team spirit and the friendliness between the team and management. It was incredible. I was so proud to see the supporters from London and from all over the country.
    It was clear that SR has only one date in his diary -13 May 2018. He described this date it as ‘huge’!
    Mile buiochas do gach duine agus Nollaig shona agus athbhliain faoi mhaise daoibh uilig. Ta suil orm go mbead Sam ag teacht trasna na Sionnaine in 2018.

  4. Delighted it went so well – sounds like a great day out :-). Was just thinking this evening I think I might be emotionally stable enough now to watch back the AIF. Up Mayo.

  5. Jesus what an end to the u21 final. Westport stole it with literally no time on the clock with a goal. First time they led on the game

    Ryan OD was superb for Belmullet and midfielder James Kelly really pulled the strings for them. They will be absolutely gutted tonight

  6. Fair play to Pat Holmes on leading Westport to their first ever U21 county title. Where in Asia is the trip away? and i thought Croke park cover some of the cost of those trips away for the AI finalist??

  7. Ryan ODonogue was superb in the u21 final. Five yellow cards on him (ridiculous lack of protection) with I think three of them being neck wraps. Really the ref should be clamping down on the second neck wrap.
    Felt Belmullet deserved it just that dropping ball at the end.
    Kuba Callaghan was brilliant in the B final. Unbelievable player for u17.

  8. A well intentioned and well organised event no doubt but there’s something wrong that a team that has generated so much revenue and entertainment for the GAA needs a fundraising event to fund a well deserved holiday. Could the GAA not have used the funds from our replays this year or that bloody sky sports deal to provide money for the team holiday?

  9. I see Denis Walsh, Sunday Times GAA journalist has raised the issue of our team training camp. He wants Croke Park to come down heavily on it. I find it surprising that RTE or no other paper that I’ve seen has raised the issue.
    Has Martin Brehony gone into hibernation?

  10. A great night of football in “A” and “B”.
    Play till the final whistle the old Club men always said. Tough for Belmullet to loose a County final that way.
    Great character shown by Westport, never gave up, even though they never got really got up to speed like they did against Claremorris.
    A great competition lost to the weather out in December. Should have a permanent slot before the County U21’s start, on good ground, so management could see what talent is available in the County.
    Some bright young Cubs on the horizion in both games.
    Future is bright.

  11. It’s easier to say which of them weren’t there, Mary! Tom Parsons was on his honeymoon and Diarmuid O’Connor wasn’t there either but I think the rest were all at the event.

  12. I found the 13 a side B final more entertaining. 13 a side is full of man on man duals throughout.
    A player who caught my eye was the midfielder Cathal Hennelly of Davitts. He has a very good pass off his left foot.

  13. Agree 100% JP.
    Cathal Hennelly looks like a promising player. Don’t know what age he is? Under 21 again next year?

  14. I heard at the County Board AGM today that every club in the county is to get a equal share of the gate receipts collected from matches. So you take a Club like Castlebar Mitchels who have a Senior, Intermediate, and 2 Junior teams, and their share is the same as is given to Eastern Gaels. If that is the case then Castlebar should only pay the same levies as Eastern Gaels. Its turning a bit like a person who if successful pays a lot of tax, and his tax is then given to a person who wont work and draws “The Dole”. I think it should be shared out on the number of teams you field. If this is the way forward the GOOD clubs will be screwed and the junior clubs will be still junior clubs. So its alright for clubs to have equal share then it should be alright to pay in the same levies. What’s sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander.

  15. I must say Mayo appear to be very organised, both on and off the field this year. Fair play, they are getting great support and it’s well deserved. I think if you can unearth one or two clever forwards it should make all the difference. By clever, I mean a player who is a good decision maker, can hold up the play, create scoring chances for others and score himself to boot. Ian Burke is the type of player I have in mind. I’m delighted he has at last come of age for us. Anyway, best of luck to all..

  16. @true grit that’s an interesting opinion you have. With regard the levies you mention just to use one example, the 100 euro county board tickets clubs are required to sell. Do you not think it is a lot easier for a club like castlebar to get people to buy these when there catchment area is of maybe a thousand people or more versus eastern gaels which is an awful lot less?

  17. Very interesting article AndyD. I thought the comment in relation to Mayo inviting a financial penalty when previously they “didn’t have two coppers to rub together” was particularly pointed. It will be interesting to see what stance the CPA take on this and how forceful they will be.

    Sometimes it feels in Mayo that the quest for an All-Ireland eclipses everything else and that sometimes allowances above and beyond the norm are made but that will come to an end too; eventually that quest will fade regardless of whether we win it or don’t win it and it’s our clubs that will be here for the long haul.

    For anyone wishing to read it the link is here: (you just need to register to read it, it’s not behind a paywall).

    Whatever about that, well done to the county board on what was by all accounts a very successful and enjoyable day in the Shelbourne, and it is great to see the level of ambition involved in this initiative.

  18. Shelbourne Lunch
    – Great idea to tap into the Corporate market and Christmas spirit at the same time to raise funds for a well-deserved holiday for the players.
    – Ironic though that the only fundraiser of this type for the Mayo team is held in Dublin ??
    – Even more ironic is Cairde Maigheo did not even bother to communicate details of the event to their members or was it only to some of their members. Is Cairde Maigheo being take over by the Mayo Association in Dublin ? as same thing happened with the pre All-Ireland fundraiser.

    Cost of training senior team
    – Over 1.3 million, incredible amount which I would like to see a very detailed breakdown for. It should be possible to break down the transport costs, food costs, hotel costs and other costs on a weekly basis. May have to go easy on the 4 star hotels.

    Training camp in April
    – No need for Mayo to be bringing unwanted attention on ourselves with this, I bet any money this will change and you will find that the Mayo team will not be going on a training camp in April, Croke Park are bound to put their foot down here and unfortunately they have leverage because of the debt on McHale Park.

    Good luck to Alan D and the others that will be retiring and happy Xmas to one and all and especially to WJ for one hell of an amount of work during 2017.

  19. The clubs will always be there, regardless of whatever 30 county panel members do or don`t do in April 2018. So, I believe 100% that Rochford is right, be ruthless and dont worry about what others think, you are trying to achieve a goal not achieved since 1951and its millimeters that are dividing Mayo from Dublin today, don`t give dublin a single millimeter advantage if you want to take Sam from them anytime soon.

  20. I agree with Olive above, great idea for a fundraiser, plenty of money to be raised from Mayo business people in the Dublin area, but a pity it wasn’t communicated properly.

    As a Mayo person working and in Dublin since 2001, I would have loved to have attended and supported the team and even get into a bidding war for a signed jersey at the auction or whatever they had.

    They certainly deserve a holiday, but Cairde Mhaigheo leaving money on the table by not promoting the event.

    Communication issues again letting the side down…

  21. A few weeks ago everybody wants the management to stay on, now there giving out about them again!Whats the big deal about the training camp its only 1 week in April, when its just the county league been played ,surely one starred round of games wont do any harm to clubs.Stephen Rochford has to have Mayo ready for Galway on the 13th of May, a team he has lost the 2 previous years and will be playing Division 1 football next season and if we lose we will have to play 4 qualifier games just to get back to Super 8.
    I see Marc O’Se had a cut at Rochford aswell but I doubt hes too worried about Mayo club football.I bet he wouldn’t open his mouth if Eamon Fitz was to hold a training camp if Kerry had a game in early May against Cork but there not out until 2nd of June against Clare.Whoever released that information to the Press hasn’t done the management much favours.

  22. Blondie. We are not talking about ticket selling or who buys what. That is a different issue. Take for example Castlebar V Garrymore in both matches. Who got the monies from those games. So a Senior team like Garrymore who are a small rural Club and they can keep up the effort to train and play at top level, and Ballinrobe who have 4 times their population are down in Intermediate. Its not down to population, its down to who wants to achieve. I’m sure Eastern Gaels have a population bigger than Garrymore. We are discussing Gate Receipts and how the monies are divided. As I outlined if all clubs get equal share of gate takings and those clubs generate €2000. at match against clubs who generate €200 at gate, it only stands to reason the clubs who generate the most should get a greater share. Failing that all clubs should pay the same levy. Going back to €100 Mayo tickets. It was I think Davitts, Kiltane, who sold the most.

  23. @true grit I am not agreeing or disagreeing with your initial post however I have to say I found it quiet condescending and disrespectful. And I believe Willie Joe does a fantastic job moderating here but feel maybe your post slipped through the net as he says play the ball not the man. Your quote likening castlebar to the successful person paying all the tax and likening the other club to the person that won’t work and draws the dole as downright disrespectful and believe you should be taken to task for it.Do you know there may be a lot of people working very hard volunteering there time in that club.You also speak about the GOOD clubs being screwed and the junior clubs still being junior, again condescending and utter chap there can be a lot of reasons why a club are junior not just because they are not putting in the work or GOOD clubs as you call them. Again this is just my opinion but I will add i am not from a junior club myself. And just to finish true grit I might be being presumptuous in thinking the mitchels are your club maybe I’m wrong it’s just going by your post. And I must congratulate mitchels on having a fine team and a very good set up and structures in place however the question I ask is when a couple of years ago the mitchels were down at intermediate grade if someone went posting on an online forum running them down about the size of the town and history of the club being stuck down in intermediate would you have found it disrespectful to the people that where working hard in the club at that time?

    Apologies if this is off topic but I did feel this point should be put across and maybe it’s a discussion for another day at how smaller junior clubs are viewed by some people within the county and maybe how this is impacting football at all levels within the county.

  24. Point taken, Blondie11. I let the comment slide as I felt – in his somewhat inimitable and no-holds-barred way – True Grit was raising a valid point, one that others could give their own views on. On reflection, maybe I could have pared back the more OTT bits of the comment but seeing as the condescension wasn’t aimed at specific individuals (even if poor old Eastern Gaels ended up right in the firing line) I let it go.

  25. @ Blondie 11. I am not knocking junior clubs or for that matter any club. I am just outlining that up until 2016 I believe the club who hosted the matches got10% of the gate. I thought that was fair enough, but I do accept that some clubs got very little.
    Now you take clubs who have good facilities and stands they should be allowed to get extra for their investment. They too may have a team that may not going well. Its fair to say every team puts in the effort. Just take Lahardane this year. County and Connacht Junior champions. Next year a lot more gaa followers will go to Lahardane to see them playing. Would you agree that they should get extra monies from the gate than they got last year? I think they should, as its teams like that should get a little extra. This year they will get the same monies as the team who finished bottom. And remember Lahardane made a lot of extra monies for the County Board in both playing Connacht Semi and Final in Mayo.

  26. W.J. I am not knocking Eastern Gaels. I just happened to see them playing this year and I was totally disgusted at the way they let the other team back in. They had the game won, but a few guys did not keep the engine running. What I was surprised at I was speaking to one of the players a few days later, only to learn a few of them had a couple of pints during the week. That is the reason I picked out this team. Its nothing to do with the junior clubs, its just the way some lads train. Apologies to Eastern Gaels.

  27. @true grit that’s fair enough just think naming a specific club wasn’t very fair but well leave it at that.
    Wonder could we do the same at County level as your suggestion for more money for those with better stands and facilities …. how about croker more money for the dubs ???

  28. Haha true grit brilliant and if one of the players told you it must be true!! As we seen in mayo gaa circles the last few weeks all rumours are gospel truth.

  29. Ya so it’s junior B football level, so a few pints is to be expected. Makes bugger all difference. It’s junior B not the national cross country.
    I think it was 10% of championship gate and the full of anything else. But there is not much outside of championship anyways.
    10% I always thought was pretty poor.

  30. True grit, Regarding funding and the allocation of gate receipts, I would be in favour of every club getting an equal share of the take. In an amateur sport I dont believe anyone should have a financial advantage over another just beacuse they happen to be located in a larger populated area. What you suggest only makes the strong stronger while the weak fade away. This can be seen in the inter county scene where a small number of counties are making huge straits (one in particular) while the rest are struggling and some have just given up.

    While I see your point that some clubs may not be operating to their full potential and as such I believe each club recieving funding should be audited each year to ensure allocations and being put to best use within the club.

  31. Each club received €650 from County Board. That equates to 65 adult entries to a game at €10. If any club that only hosts one championship game per year can not muster 100 people between both sides questions should be asked.

    I believe that if clubs were given their home gate it would give them the impetus to really make an effort to push the game. There is an opportunity for all clubs to turn their big championship game into a fundraiser and not wait for the scraps from the County Board

  32. @ Mayomad. You say its amateur sport. Fair enough. So you don’t want to see one club having more financial advantage over another, then let every club pay the same levies whether they have 1or 4 teams as they each get the same from gate receipts then no club will have any advantage over another. Whatever monies the clubs will generate from their members will help to make teams better prepared.
    We all want equal status. Then let us all have the same rules. You wont need any audit then as the club who has the better team will win. And it wont be about money/levies etc. Simple.

  33. Should there be two clubs in Castlebar. I see both Killarney and Tralee – towns with a similar population to Castlebar have THREE clubs within their boundary and each of these clubs is fielding two teams. That’s six adult teams in each of the main towns in Kerry. Are Castlebar the Dublin of Mayo – big population, huge number of players to pick from, plenty of money supplied by wealth business people. It’s time to level the playing field.

  34. Its a hard one to know whats best to do funding wise pros and cons no matter what way slice it. Knockmore and Castlebar only clubs fielding 3 adult teams in Mayo currently I think. Don’t think populations can be compare whike large area population base of knockmore presumably would not compare close to large urban areas of Westport Castlebar Ballina claremorris etc. But they still manage it.
    Is McHale park shop programs sales etc. Into mayo co board?

  35. Great hear of comradary of the players at the event Willie Joe. They must know each other inside out at this stage. Hopefully the new kids brought in will fit in nicely over next year or so. ?

  36. I believe it is up to each and every club to get their own house in order, on and off the field, and not to be waiting for the county board and Croke Park to do their jobs for them. Every club, if it is serious about the game, should be maximizing it’s potential to ensure that the club is as competitive as it possibly can be. Each club has an elected club executive that is answerable to the club members, and it is that executive whose responsibility it is to run the club to the best of their ability. That involves recruitment of players and volunteers, fundraising, selection of managers, training of players etc etc. If the executive is failing in it’s duty then the opportunity is available every year at the club AGM to vote in a new executive. Simple as.
    The whole rural/urban club argument can be a misleading one. Urban clubs (Westport, Ballina and Castlebar) might have the population advantage over more rural clubs, but their GAA clubs also have more competition for members from other sporting organisations e.g. soccer and rugby. Castlebar, seeing as that club is being used in the argument above, have 3 soccer teams in their parish, a hurling club, a swimming club plus a rugby team. That represents a big draw on player resources and sponsorship demands. The “sporting” population of those towns have a greater choice on their doorstep and so the playing numbers can often be diluted down. Mitchels, to be fair to them, got their house in order a number of years ago and are now reaping the benefits in terms of team numbers. That, however, did not happen by itself. It took a visionary approach from the club executive that has further been enhanced by the clubs Strategic Plan 2017 – 2021. Westport have done likewise and the fruits of their efforts are beginning to come through with their underage teams.
    Rural clubs may not have the population but, generally speaking, neither do they have the competition for playing numbers from other clubs. The “sporting” population of those clubs are almost totally GAA based and so they often have a tighter, closer footballing community. Almost every house in the parish is involved in the club at some level and so, they can be very efficiently run operations. With the right club executive!
    Larger clubs cost more to run as they will have more teams = more jerseys = more refs to be paid = more transport costs = more equipment/medical costs = more registrations fees paid to the county board, but, they have the numbers to carry that cost. The opposite applies to a small rural club. The trick is to run your own club as efficiently as possible and maximize it’s potential.
    Regarding the gate receipts being split equally among all the clubs? I think it’s a big deal about not much. What are the sums of money involved? A far more pressing issue for clubs is their player insurance costs and the common situation where players are NOT reimbursed for medical expenses incurred as a result of being injured on club duty. Stories of Croke Park having to bail out clubs where their insurance premiums cannot be paid are becoming more common. As are the stories of players being out of pocket as a result of unpaid claims.

  37. Good post there Olive.

    Regarding the training camp, I’m with Rochy, though the penalty, if I read correctly somewhere, is going to be a forfeited home game in the league in 2019. That will hurt, but it can be borne.

    Mayo are box office, so whatever is done is likely to be of interest to other counties and commentators

  38. Catcol..Mayo are box office to be sure..More than Dublin Id even wager..Always enjoy when we ruffle a few feathers I must say..On a completely different note dors anyone know when we will hear about the backroom team..Is no news good news at this stage??

  39. From Sean Rice’s column last week ” We are all part of the team. We’re all here with you, we’re on your team. We are Mayo”. Those few simple lines sum it all up. See ye in 2018!

  40. Jays pebblesmeller you must think us rural culchies can’t make the big smoke of Ballina or Westport or Castlebar we so far from these towns with all their competitive distractions and bright lights. :-p
    Huge number our underage lads and ones in crossmolina and I presume other rural clubs load up the ass and cart for the arduous journey to Ballina for rugby. Have rugby at school (which is real area they are targetting). Play soccer ball as well and some involved in swimming tennis basketball and bush lushing. Luckily club invested in a good ass so they can get back to play a right sport 😉
    You are right tho in that without strong executive your innbother as a club. The schools are another area of weakness I think more is needed there.
    Hopefully all have a good and safe Christmas.
    Willie Joe thanks again for Trojan work.

  41. Regina – was It not reported via the lunch that all of the management team were back on board? Willie Joe?

  42. As I recall, Catcol, that question was put by Mike Finnerty to Stephen Rochford in the post-lunch Q&A and he answered in the affirmative. That’s the only confirmation I’ve heard on that point as yet.

  43. TrueGrit who was the player you were speaking to? It is a disgrace to attack a small club in the manner which you have done on a public forum hiding behind a madeup name.

    Would be better by your logic that all small clubs get no money and all their best players transfer to senior clubs?

  44. That’s good enough for me Willie Joe!
    By God a.m. I sorry I didn’t go to that lunch. Would have been a bit expensive but what the Hell.

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