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Ballinakill and Abbeyleix hurling amalgamation bid fails as club members have their say

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Players from Ballinakill and Abbeyleix at a recent Boxing Fight Night fundraiser organised jointly by the two clubs

The proposed hurling amalgamation between Ballinakill and Abbeyleix won’t be going ahead as it failed to get sufficient support from the club’s Extraordinary General Meetings which were held at the same time on Sunday evening.

The proposal to join the clubs – similar to what Rathdowney-Errill and Borris-Kilcotton have done in recent years – needed 75% support from both clubs to proceed.

And while it comfortably got that in Ballinakill, the Abbeyleix meeting voted against it.

Ballinakill voted 72 in favour (82.75%) and 15 against (17.25%) but it was a different story in Abbeyleix as 17 (26.15%) were in favour and 48 against (73.85%).

Voting was by secret ballot and only fully paid-up club members were entitled to vote.

An independent outsider was brought into facilitate the meetings in both clubs with former GAA President Nickey Brennan from Kilkenny attending the meeting in Ballinakill.

The vote comes after a number of meetings between club representatives from both sides which had been facilitated by another former GAA President, Liam O’Neill from Trumera.

A number of details had been agreed should the amalgamation go ahead including arrangements for training and matches, club officers, finances and how to keep the identity of both clubs alive by fielding separate junior football teams in the name of the original clubs.

The football issue was somewhat complicated, however, as the Ballinakill hurlers play football with Spink and the Abbeyleix hurlers play football with Ballyroan-Abbey.

Both Abbeyleix and Ballinakill are currently senior in their own right and have appeared in a handful of semi-finals in recent years even though Ballinakill were Senior ‘A’ (the second tier) as recently as 2014 and Abbeyleix only avoided relegation from senior two years ago when they beat The Harps by one point.

Abbeyleix have eight senior titles to their name but the last of those was in 1949, the last time they reached a senior final.  Ballinakill have never won a Laois SHC title with their only final appearance coming in 1979.

SEE ALSO – Winning start for Eddie Brennan as Laois hurlers beat Offaly in Walsh Cup