Maghery to go it alone in N. Armagh
15 December 2005
AFTER over 30 yeas Ballyhegan are set to go back to their roots and re-join the Mid-Armagh League structure.
From Lurgan Mail
All of Ballyhegan's underage teams, who will take part in action in 2006, will compete in the Mid Board section. And the follow on implications will see Maghery fielding in North Armagh as a non-amalgamated side.
For the past number of season's, Maghery and Ballyhegan joined forces at youth level to form the Shamrock's with this amalgamated side on occasions being successful in both league and championship structures.
The 'Mail' has learned that Ballyhegan's main motive behind the move surrounds the fact that the Mid Board have competitions in place which accommodate clubs who can not field teams comprising 15 players.
Meanwhile North Board chairman, Malachy Heaney, has confirmed that although Maghery teams in 2006 will not be able to field five strength underage teams the other clubs which fall within the boards remit have agreed to play league games against Maghery who could be forced to line out minus three or four players.
Next season's youth leagues could see 12 or 13 a side games taking place and the 'Mail' has also gathered that Maghery's opponents can use their full quota of subs.
While the new initiative recently implemented by the clubs in North Armagh will keep Maghery players in the game and provide regular and competitive football, problems could arise; for example, should a 12 or 13 man team pick up one or more injuries or have a player sent off.
Ballyhegan for their part, according to their club man, Patrick Morgan, won't find themselves out of place in the Mid Board section.
"Ballyhegan came from the Mid Board originally," said Patrick. "Many of the fathers of the current players would have played for Ballyhegan in the Mid Board leagues.
"In the early days Ballyhegan joined with Annaghmore which brought us into the North Board's remit so setting our youth team's compete in Mid Armagh will be normal for a lot of us."
Although the recent accommodation of Maghery's proposal to play teams in North Armagh which fall short of having the full quota of 15 players will certainly continue to keep the young Lough Shore players in the game, it will be interesting to see how the youth league structures work out further down the line.
The more competitive clubs, however, could be forced to tow the line should full legislation be passed which prohibits full competitive football at under-10 and under-12 levels.
In accommodating Maghery, the club in North Armagh have show vision, something the young Maghery players would no doubt appreciate. Practically though a better picture of all of this will take time to evolve.