All football clubs in Mayo are being asked to establish girls and women's football.

The call has come from the Mayo Women's League secretary as the female game enjoys continued growth in Ireland.

Speaking at the league's annual general meeting in Milebush, Joe King commented: “Women’s football, be it underage or adult, is still growing in Mayo.

“There are many, many clubs who have yet to tap into it, they have yet to start girls and women’s football.

“I’m asking all clubs in Mayo to start girls football. You can provide football for the boys in your area. It's time to get the girls game going too.”

Mayo clubs, he pointed out, have had outstanding success in FAI Cup competitions down through the years, with numerous titles coming to the county, and we need to keep the momentum going and to build the game.

County teams at women's, Under 19 and Under 17 level to represent the Mayo league is also part of that future growth, the meeting was told.

Last season saw Kilmore return to the women's league after an absence of several years, with Crossmolina new entrants.

There are further green shoots of growth for 2024 with Ballina Town returning to the women's league and clubs like Ballyglass returning at the Under 17 grade.

On the women's league itself, Mr. King commented: “It's fantastic to see new clubs coming all the time.

“In 2017 and 2018 we had no league as only Manulla and Castlebar Town entered. In five years, we have gone from two teams to 10 teams, and it is the hope that this trend will continue and the ladies in all clubs will be given an opportunity to play the game.”

Mr. King said the the work being done on the ground at club level in Mayo is 'phenomenal'. “More and more teams are playing in the underage leagues, which in time feeds into the teams playing in our league. I would like to thank the club officers and underage coaches who foster and promote the game at local level. This often unseen work is what makes the game what it is,” he said.

The Mayo Schoolboys Girls and Youths League do excellent work, he added, and the emerging talent were congratulated on their work to prepare elite players for the inter-leagues, bringing numerous titles to Mayo over the years.

Girls Under 17 football came under the auspices of the Mayo league for the first time in 2023 and was a big success, with 14 teams. A similar number of teams will kick off the 2024 Under 17 league in February, followed by the women's league in mid-March and the Under 19 league in the summer.

In 2023 Manulla returned to a familiar place where they reclaimed the women’s league title but the pack is growing behind them. Castlebar Town and Swinford had excellent seasons with Kiltimagh Knock United also showing steady improvements.

Straide & Foxford Utd were the top team in Division 1, claiming the title, and will be looking to push on in 2024.

On matters administration, Mr. King issued an appeal for new blood to join the league committee: “The Mayo Women’s League is a growing league. More and more teams mean more and more work, and a few people are no longer able to cover all areas of the game.

“The women’s game demands and deserves the respect of everyone in the game. We need to provide more for our players and coaches to aspire to. This league needs new blood, it needs new ideas, and it needs to move forward.

“There's a lot needed to develop this league. It won’t happen in 24 hours, but it needs to start.”

Anyone interested in a role on the committee is asked to contact Joe King directly or via the league Facebook page.

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