picture courtesy of Shared Access
Seen as it’s a league with over 100 years worth of history and an establishment that has served amateur football so well for over a century it was good to see someone attempt to defend it.
Like a fighter well behind on points going into the last round AUL president Tony Martin came out swinging to ensure the prestigious league at very least goes out on it’s shield.
The AUL has always lost big names over the years, but clubs like Cherry Orchard and Killester United left having dominated Junior football and only when they had achieved all they could at AUL level did they go in search of a move to the LSL and all things Intermediate.
However, over recent season those looking to make the switch haven’t done so with the same kind of dominance and trophy collection behind them.
Indeed, Premier B and Premier C sides, teams well off the front running, as well as some progressive if not dominant top flight sides have felt the grass is greener on the LSL side.
This month news broke that six more teams have requested to make the switch across the great league divide, only to have their attempts to migrate stopped at the AUL border.
After news broke regarding the want aways and the AUL’s decision to block any departure, Martin went public regarding the stance and was defiant when discussing the position taken by the AUL.
In an interview with Herald Striker the AUL President suggested the AUL would hold firm and tried to explain why.
However, there were more holes in his arguments than there were left in Tony Montana at the end of Scarface and more buts about what he was suggesting than you’d see butts in an old school rap video.
Firstly Martin’s tone has to be questioned. It was almost dictator like . The AUL won’t allow it and it won’t happen! He also seemed to be questioning how wise it would be to move and some within amateur football felt as if he was only short of laughing at the desire to migrate.
Firstly the JSP doesn’t understand if clubs sign a rolling one year contract why they need switch permission, but that seems to be the case. Secondly while Martin has every right to defend the league he cares for and is involved in, those who run each of the six clubs have their respective clubs best interests at heart. They make decisions with their clubs, teams, players and staff’s best interests in mind.
To question as to why they want to part or move seems futile. It’s obvious they think a change of league best suits there club.
The defiant approach may also back fire. The ‘because I said so’ feel to his answers won’t sit right with committee members in the six (so far) clubs that want to depart. It instantly creates conflict and resentment. If the AUL President feels the AUL is the best place for the unnamed six explain why.
If you consider the AUL have tried to secure- and remain open to- some form of link up with LSL in a bid to create one strong Leinster league, these clubs have ever right to be concerned for the health of the AUL going into next season.
The six obviously think the LSL is best suited to their plans and goals so you would be best served to tell them why that isn’t the case and sell them the AUL and it’s benefits rather than take the ‘no means no’ stance.
Not to mention with so many clubs changing the AUL acronym for the LSL one of late there are a number of clubs ambitions that obviously haven’t been matched by the AUL, either that or they have been unhappy with the running of things. It seems logical the league’s committee should sit with teams and the people it has been elected to represent to find out what the issues are and then put a plan in place to address them.
The other big point Martin was making is that teams need to ‘earn’ the right to play Intermediate football, hinting that clubs are making the leap too soon. The AUL boss man seemed to think the AUL could be a stepping stone to Intermediate level. He didn’t go into specifics, but most surmised he meant doing well in Premier A could prove passage to Intermediate football and LSL.
That may work and could prove beneficial as Premier A teams could benefit from the fact the AUL top flight is more prestigious than the LSL fifth tier, but again it would mean some form of link up which the LSL members elected against.
Plus the ‘earn the right’ debate is defunct as LSL policy seems to be to place any new teams into Major Sunday 1 at the very heighest, which means you are two promotions away from Intermediate football. In that regard clubs have to do the business in the LSL Junior ranks to earn passage to Intermediate level. So the only way they can prove they are Intermediate worthy is by winning.
The AUL also has a rich history in the FAI Junior Cup and the fact playing Junior football provides the ability to compete in the most prestigious of tournaments is one of the AUL’s main selling points, a point Martin rightly made.
However, if you switch to LSL you can still set FAI Junior Cup goals. The FAI Junior last 16 was populated by a number of LSL sides, including some Saturday outfits.
Collinstown, who went out to finalists and favourites Sheriff YC after a tight back and fort clash, were among the top 10 favourites to win the contest outright, despite being a Major Sunday 1 side. Indeed, they are into the Leinster Junior Cup final four and will have serious FAI Junior ambitions next season before hoping to fix their attention to all things Intermediate.
So the LSL not only allows moving clubs to have a stab at the FAI Junior and Leinster Junior, but they can do so while closing in on Intermediate football.
The one big carrot the AUL has had over the last decade or so was that it was a competitive, prestigious and thus media friendly league. Winning Premier A won you massive respect from the wider footballing world and brought press coverage.
However, with so many clubs leaving the standard could drop and as a result that respect, prestige and even media coverage could wane.
The JSP met with the AUL committee in the first season we started to operate and just weeks after a massive show of love from most of its members we were informed we would no longer get match cards, all clubs would be instructed not to work with us and that we were barred from the Complex. They also informed us they would be able to hamper our coverage of the big Junior cups, that they were taking legal advice regarding us covering their league and would attempt to persuade any of their sponsors not to work with us.
Although the LSL powers that be haven’t welcomed the JSP with open arms they haven’t been as obstructive, as a result we warned with genuine concern that the main beneficiary of such crazy and self destructive tactics would be the Leinster Senior League. With the extra publicity the LSL would receive the rival league would grow further in stature, popularity and possibly numbers as a result.
The advice was meet with laughter akin to what you would see at a Kevin Bridges stand up show and while we take no pleasure in it, it seems we have been proved right.
Finally you can’t get away from the fact the AUL are looking to merge with the LSL. That suggests they feel things could be better with their rival league. If the league are looking for a link up how can the morally or legally stop the clubs from doing the same.