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AIB League Central: Sligo Target AIB League Return

AIB League Central: Sligo Target AIB League Return

A quick scan across the three divisions of the AIB League will show just how competitive the league has become, with very few points separating the top sides from mid-table and then the middling clubs from those in the relegation zone.

Below that, you have the leading junior clubs in the country all scrapping for a place in the All-Ireland round robin series which will determine what club can secure senior status next season as the 48th AIB League side.

Unveiling details of their new Football Development Plan, Sligo RFC, who currently top the Connacht Junior 1A League, have set out their stall to push themselves back into the AIB League by the 2013/2014 season.

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Sligo were relegated from the All-Ireland League at the end of the 1997/98 season and are very eager to reach a point where they can return to the competition ‘with a team comprised of indigenous players who have progressed through the club’s juvenile, youth and Under-20 sections.’

“It is a source of major concern that so many players produced by the club’s juvenile and youth sections opt to play with the senior or Under-20 sides of AIB League clubs when they go to college,” it said in the plan documents.

“The reversal of this trend is a priority for the club and this can best be achieved by building a stronger and more competitive first team.”

For instance, during the 2007/08 season, ten former Sligo underage players played for AIB League sides while another ex-Sligo player was on a professional contract in France.

With another five former Sligo players lining out for All-Ireland League clubs at Under-20 level, Sligo’s sub committee reason that if all these players were still with Sligo, they would have the foundations of a strong AIB League team.

Winning the Connacht League in the near future is ‘an achieveable objective’. “It is felt that the club urgently requires to strengthen its present playing squad. Ideally, this should be done by persuading at least some of the former Sligo players to return but if it is not possible to achieve a significant number, as a stop gap measure foreign players should be recruited for the 2008/2009 season.

“Stronger links should be forged with Sligo IT so that players can be recruited from there,” it was also suggested.