LAOIS GAA - Clonaslee forced to pull out of leagues due to lack of players

Clonaslee St Manman's have taken the drastic step of pulling teams from both football and hurling leagues for 2011, as the club struggle to cope with the loss of players through injury, suspension and emigration.

Clonaslee St Manman's have taken the drastic step of pulling teams from both football and hurling leagues for 2011, as the club struggle to cope with the loss of players through injury, suspension and emigration.

Secretary Pat Carroll confirmed on Monday that the club will focus their efforts on the championship, which means that the players they do have available to them won't play any competitive games until July at the earliest.

Like many rural clubs, they have lost a number of players through emigration, and with five players serving long-term suspensions arising from their game with Ballyfin in the intermediate hurling championship last year, it has stretched the club to breaking point.

When long term injuries to players like Mark Rooney (Achilles) and Darren Hogan (cruciate ligament) are also factored in, Carroll admitted the committee were forced to pull their teams from the league. "Because of emigration, injury and suspension, our player base is very thin on the ground," explained the club secretary. "We have a lot of players injured and a few more are going to Australia, so we've decided we'll try and pull the lads together for the championship."

As well as the players they are missing, Carroll also confirmed that the pressures which would be placed on the remaining players, in the current climate, would have been too extreme. "We have so many lads in college, and it's too expensive for them to be coming back during the week for league matches.

"You have lads in work telling us that they can't be leaving work early every time there is a league game either, because work is so scarce they are not able to get off."

Clonaslee will instead focus their energies on competing in the championship later in the summer. Their senior football team survived in the SFC last year after a first round win over Ballyroan-Abbey, while their intermediate hurlers lost in the semi-final after that ill-fated game with Ballyfin last September. It has been rumoured that a number of players could be transferring away from the club but so far nobody has moved.

Laois GAA Chairman Brian Allen admitted the county board are awaiting word from a number of clubs who are considering pulling teams out of league and championship action due to dwindling numbers, as emigration continues to see clubs struggle to maintain their traditional playing bases. The final line-ups for all leagues and championships will be passed at a CCC meeting next Monday night.

Slieve Bloom secretary John Paul Campion recently admitted that his club would also have struggled to field a team this year had they not agreed to amalgamate with Castletown after their AGM last Sunday evening.