‘No player welfare issues exist’: Mayo Ladies issue statement following controversial player departures

THE MAYO LADIES football squad have broken their silence for the first time following the high-profile departures which rocked the panel this summer.

The Mayo team before they took on Cavan

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

In a statement issued to The42, the players said “no player welfare issues exist or have ever existed under the current management” led by Peter Leahy, and they “categorically disagree” with that claim which was made when 12 players left the squad.

“We were surprised and disappointed to hear of these issues and if we had witnessed any welfare issues, we would not have hesitated to highlight them to the management,” the players said.

It also claims that the departure of four of the players, along with two of Leahy’s backroom staff, followed “a failed coup” at a players’ meeting in the days following the initial withdrawal of eight Carnacon players in July.

The statement was issued on behalf of the current squad through a player representative on Tuesday.

Eight Carnacon players, including all-time leading scorer Cora Staunton and vice-captain Fiona McHale, left the squad 10 days before they played Cavan in the first round of the All-Ireland qualifier group stage.

Captain Sarah Tierney and three players from other clubs later left the panel for personal reasons. Two members of the backroom team also departed.

The players who left the panel released a statement through the Women’s Gaelic Players Association (WGPA) on 10 July, citing “player welfare issues that are personal and sensitive to the players involved”.

Mayo manager Peter Leahy

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Two days later, the Mayo Ladies county board publicly backed Leahy and the players who remained part of his panel.

“The board feels it important to state that the senior management team has adhered to all protocols and guidelines set out at the beginning of their tenure,” the county board said.

“The board has made players and management aware that they have our full support going forward.”

A much-changed Mayo side went on to enjoy a 3-23 to 4-13 win over Cavan in Clones to put a week of upheaval behind them. 

Mediation talks took place on 18 July in Castlebar involving representatives of all parties, but they proved inconclusive. A confidentiality agreement was signed afterwards by those involved in a bid to keep a lid on the discussions.

Mayo went on to reach the All-Ireland quarter-finals, where they lost out to Galway by 5-11 to 0-12.

At a Mayo county board meeting on 21 August, club delegates voted in favour of removing Carnacon from this year’s Mayo league and championship.

The delegates agreed the reigning Mayo, Connacht and All-Ireland champions had brought the Association “into disrepute” for withdrawing their players from the Mayo squad in the summer.

Carnacon confirmed they would appeal the ban to the Appeals Committee of the Connacht LGFA.

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Carnacon celebrate their 2017 All-Ireland victory

Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Speaking at an Off The Ball event in Croke Park last Thursday, Staunton said: “The right story will eventually come out. You know, I think we’ve been very dignified over the last number of months.”

Carnacon’s appeal was successful and they were reinstated to all competitions. The Mayo county board are set to meet tonight to discuss whether they will appeal that decision to the Connacht LGFA. 

Now, the Mayo players have decided to speak out for the first time. 

The Mayo Senior Ladies Team Players Statement

“We, the Mayo senior ladies panel, believe the time is now right to make a statement regarding events in June and July 2018. On 6 July, eight players were withdrawn by their club without consultation or discussion with their Mayo team colleagues.

“Understandably, we as players were left shocked and saddened by this decision which was taken 10 days before our championship match with Cavan. Another four players, one selector and one backroom staff left following a failed coup which took place at a players meeting two days later.

“To date, we have not been given any reasoning or clarity as to why this course of action was taken. We feel deeply let down and hurt by the actions of those who left our panel.

“We believe that no player welfare issues exist or have ever existed under the current management and categorically disagree with the statement issued in July by the individuals that departed the Mayo senior ladies panel regarding the welfare issues raised.

“We were surprised and disappointed to hear of these issues and if we had witnessed any welfare issues, we would not have hesitated to highlight them to the management.

“It is fair to say that there was considerable upheaval in advance of the Cavan game. This was the biggest game of the year for us and our preparation was distracted.

“We take offence to some of the comments that have been made by certain players over the last few weeks in the media.

“We fully support our management team and as a team believe that all of their decisions and selections were made fairly after careful consideration. We had a fantastic league campaign culminating in a league final appearance in Parnell Park and while the last few months were difficult and disappointing; many new players were given an opportunity to perform at county level.

“Our manager Peter Leahy has shown integrity and honour under tremendous pressure and he has always treated us as elite athletes, has supported and stood strong for us allowing us to play football without fear or intimidation.

“The management set up has been top class with no stone left unturned to make sure we can avail of top level coaching and facilities. The management ethos is focused on teamwork and also on how we as individuals can perform to the highest standard.

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“All players are treated with honesty and respect in an environment where generosity and passion for the county are to the fore.

“Ultimately, we want to play football and honour our county jersey and we trust and support our manager, Peter Leahy, and his management team to take the county forward. We always have and always will welcome any player to the panel to help us achieve our goals.

“Mayo Ladies senior football panel would like to thank our management, county board, families, friends, supporters, general public and ultimately our clubs for supporting and trusting us during this difficult time as we strive to bring honour to our county.

“Go raibh míle maith agaibh.”

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