Mayo County Board have hit out at Croke Park’s decision to schedule their All-Ireland qualifier with Down for a 7pm throw-in on Saturday week.

Mayo specifically requested that the game go ahead at 3pm given the length of the journey home facing their supporters and players after the match at Páirc Esler in Newry.

But the GAA’s Central Competition Control Committee (CCCC) went for the later throw-in without consulting Mayo, leaving them "surprised and disappointed".

"We want to put on record our disappointment over this decision," said Mayo GAA Public Relations Officer, Paul Cunnane.

"A lot of our fans will be facing a four-to-five hour journey home. They won’t be getting into their cars until 9pm, and that’s only if the game doesn’t go to extra-time, so they won’t be back home until one or two o’clock in the morning.

"It will be later for the players - they’ll have to have a bite to eat and a cool down after the match so they won’t be getting on the bus until ten, half ten at night."

Connacht Council Secretary John Prenty is a member of the CCCC and in an interview with The Mayo News he explained there were a number of reasons behind the decision.

One is that Down are playing in the Christy Ring Cup final against Armagh on that Saturday afternoon at 2pm in Croke Park and another is their Under-20 team’s game against Antrim, which is the curtain-raiser to the Cavan-Donegal Ulster senior final on Sunday, 23 June. 

The PSNI also asked for a later throw-in because of the large volume of shoppers in Newry on a Saturday afternoon.

Down beat Tipperary to set up their Mayo meeting

"We requested a 3pm throw-in and we were surprised and disappointed when we learned on Tuesday that the game was down for 7pm," said Cunnane.

"One of the reasons given was that the PSNI requested a later start. But the game could have gone ahead at 3pm on Saturday in Castlebar no problem. Donegal-Tyrone was in Cavan last Saturday at 5pm. Both are busy towns so what’s the difference?

"We have great support and a lot of that is made up of young families. We certainly couldn’t blame many of them if they decided not to travel on this occasion."

Mayo are the best supported team in football outside of Dublin, bringing big crowds with them on the road wherever they go.

Manager James Horan’s team find themselves in the second round of qualifiers having lost their recent Connacht semi-final to Roscommon.