Photo: Sky Sports
There I was thinking that one of the few upsides of our early exit from the championship this summer would be a quiet time here and the chance, for a while at least, to turn my focus elsewhere. As the man says, you know what thought did.
The story of discord in the Mayo ladies camp was first broken yesterday morning by Edwin McGreal and Mike Finnerty in the Mayo News (here) and Ed was also on Newstalk’s Off The Ball AM show yesterday to expand a bit further on the story. You can listen to (and watch) that coverage here.
The WGPA have also issued a statement in support of the players who have left the panel – ten in all, including senior figures such as captain Sarah Tierney, vice-captain Fiona McHale and the legendary Cora Staunton – and you can read that here.
The bald facts in this dispute, in as much as they’ve been made public, are all contained in those links above. The reasons the players have given for leaving the panel are “player welfare issues that are personal and sensitive to the players involved.” No further details behind this broad-brush rationale have been provided and neither the players nor the management are commenting further on the matter at this time.
It’s hard to know what’s going on here. Facilities and conditions and all that have long been a bugbear in ladies football – not just in Mayo – and while significant advances have been made on that front in recent years much more still needs to be done. That said, it’s not clear that this dispute centres on such issues at all.
What is clear, though, is that the timing for the player walk-out couldn’t be any worse from a playing point of view. The team is due to face Cavan in the All-Ireland championship Group 4 first round on Sunday at St Tiernach’s Park in Clones (throw-in 2.15pm).
Following their Connacht final loss to Galway, Mayo have been bracketed with the Breffni ladies as well as All-Ireland champions Dublin for the group series of games in this year’s senior championship, from which the All-Ireland quarter-final pairings will be decided. Given the upheaval in the camp this week, however, it’s difficult to see any outcome other than elimination in the group stages for the ladies this year.
UPDATE: Mayo LGFA have now released a statement on dispute, piece by Mike Finnerty in the Mayo News on that is here.