By Damian Dolan
London moved closer to competing in the Connacht Provincial Club Championship from 2018, after its clubs gave their backing to the proposal. Delegates voted overwhelmingly in favour of the move at the county board’s (14 August) meeting.
London’s application now needs the green light from Connacht Council, who have already spoken favourably about the proposal, the CCC and then Central Council (on 20 September) before being finally ratified.
London county board chairman John Lacey, said: “I’m very confident that it will go through. When you have the backing of Connacht Council behind you it helps the process big time.
“It should materialise, and we certainly hope it does.”
London’s senior champions currently go straight into a home All Ireland Club Championship quarter-final, but it’s a game the county has yet to win, despite coming close on a number of occasions, with a lack of competitive games in the build-up cited as a contributory factor.
Good enough Last year, St Kiernans were crowned London champions on 23 October but had to wait until 11 December for their All Ireland quarter-final with Ulster champions Slaughtneil, who arrived in London having battled their way through a provincial championship.
“We feel this is a better avenue to give the London champions competition right the way through, if they’re good enough. It gives them a better start and a better opportunity,” added Lacey. “The clubs are happy that this is the right way to go, and that’s what’s important, so as a county board we’re happy to try and make it available to them.”
If the proposal is ratified, from next year the London winners would most likely go into an open draw with the five other Connacht senior champions, and face a possible Connacht Club Championship quarter-final within just two or three weeks of being crowned champions of London.
This year’s Connacht Club quarter-final takes place on 4 November, with the semifinals fixed for 12 November and the final on 26 November.
Confident Connacht Council secretary John Prenty, said: “It’s a win-win situation for both London and Connacht. I’m very confident that it will go through.
“There’s a huge relationship already between London and Connacht, and we had this idea in our heads for a couple of years.
“It would be a benefit for us and for London, instead of waiting months for an All Ireland quarter-final.
“We floated the idea with London and then myself and Mick Rock (Connacht Council president) met with John Lacey and Mark Gottsche a couple of weeks ago, and we started to progress the proposal.
“London club teams are very strong so it will be an extra team in our competition and that will benefit us. The novelty of having London involved will be a big help. “It will also take a round out of the All Ireland Club Championship, so it will help with the national fixtures plan, and that saves a couple of weeks at the end of the season.”
As reported in the Irish World on 24 June, the board had previously asked delegates to canvass the opinions of their clubs on the idea at its June county board meeting, with delegates reporting back the following month.