Mayo women’s football row still ‘personal and sensitive’

Peter Leahy determined to press on and concentrating on Saturday’s match

 St Tiernach’s Park in Clones, Co Monaghan.  Mayo women’s football team will play Cavan in the town  on Saturday. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

St Tiernach’s Park in Clones, Co Monaghan. Mayo women’s football team will play Cavan in the town on Saturday. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

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Both sides of the Mayo women’s football row are keeping tight-lipped about what exactly are the “personal and sensitive” player welfare issues which resulted in 10 team members opting out of the panel earlier this week, including their 11-time All-Star Cora Staunton.

Mayo manager Peter Leahy is determined to press on, declining to comment in any detail on the reasons behind their withdrawal and concentrating instead on Saturday’s All-Ireland qualifier opener against Cavan in Clones.

The 10 team members, which included Staunton, captain Sarah Tierney, and vice-captain Fiona McHale, all opted out on Monday, as did team selector Michael McHale, Fiona’s father, and all mostly from the Carnacon club.

They have since issued a brief statement via the Women’s Gaelic Players’ Association (WGPA) citing player welfare issues as their sole reason for opting out.

“We have stepped away from the Mayo panel for player welfare issues that are personal and sensitive to the players involved. Out of respect to the girls playing at the weekend and ourselves, we will not be commenting further. We wish the Mayo team well with their game on Saturday.”

However, the Mayo Ladies Gaelic Football Association (LGFA) has now given its full support to Leahy, who has since named his team for Saturday’s game and still includes 10 of the team that started the Connacht final defeat to Galway.

“I am preparing for a championship match on Saturday, and as soon as that is over I will give you the facts,” said Leahy, who was also involved as a coach under last year’s manager Frank Browne.

Training guidelines

The Mayo board are satisfied that Leahy has adhered to the training guidelines and structures laid out when he took charge of the team, and it has informed the remaining 28 squad members that the management team have its “full support”. 

Their statement said: “The executive board of Mayo LGFA is acutely aware of the critical importance of player welfare. Player wellbeing is fundamental to all coaching and management structures.

“A comprehensive programme is in place to ensure that all Mayo players can train and perform in a safe and supportive environment, and all necessary resources have been made available to enable the Mayo senior ladies compete with the very best in the country.

“In the light of media speculation about unspecified ‘personal and sensitive’ issues, 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 board has made players and management aware that they have our full support going forward, and we will continue to work with all parties to find an amicable resolution.

“Finally, we would call on all Mayo fans to come out and support the team in Saturday’s TG4 All-Ireland qualifier against Cavan and for the remainder of the season.”

Speculation

The WGPA also issued a short statement supporting the players, and calling for an end to speculation surrounding the story. “We are aware of the issues at hand and are supporting all of the players. We recognise the physical and emotional commitment required to operate at the top level of our games, and respect the decision of all individual players regarding their own personal playing experience.

“We would now appeal that speculation on the matter comes to an end, and that all players are supported on and off the field. The WGPA will continue to work with everyone individually and collectively in the best interests of Mayo ladies football.”

Mayo lost to Galway in the Connacht final in June, but are still in the race for the All-Ireland in championship Group 4 alongside Cavan and defending champions Dublin.

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