Another week of drama on the ladies football front

Ladies Football

Story moving on: The drama in the Mayo Ladies scene took a few more turns this week. Photo: Sportsfile.

Story moving on: The drama in the Mayo Ladies scene took a few more turns this week. Photo: Sportsfile.

It has been another tumultuous week in the Mayo Ladies football scene.

Last Thursday night week (August 30 ) Carnacon were successful in their appeal against being thrown out of the Mayo league and championship, when they appealed the decision of the Mayo LGFA county board to the Connacht council. They have been excluded from the competitions by the board after it found that the club had brought the game into disrepute, following the withdrawal of eight of their players from the Mayo senior set up in July.

Following on from their success in that appeal, the club issued a statement saying they were "Delighted to confirm that the appeal against the sanctions imposed by the Mayo Ladies County Board has been successful and they have been reinstated to the Senior League and Championship competitions for 2018."

The statement continued: "We are satisfied with this outcome and feel it reflects the impulsive, heavy handed approach initially taken by the Mayo Ladies County Board. Without full examination of the events available for club delegates, it has been prove incorrect to make any such ruling on the situation."

Later in the statement it noted: "Unfortunately, this ruling stemmed from issues raised by players representing their county. As a club we supported these players and continue to do so. We will continue to be proud of all players and teams, including those who represent Mayo at all levels.

"We now look forward to getting back in action on the pitch and doing our best as a club to support all of our members. It has been a great honour to represent our families and communities on a provincial and national stage in recent years."

Some days later on Tuesday, a statement was issued to the sports website The 42 by the remaining players from the Mayo panel, who finished out the championship, where they were eliminated at the quarter-final stage by Galway.

In that statement the players said: "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 On 6 July, eight players were withdrawn by their club without consultation or discussion with their Mayo team colleagues.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 player's 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.

“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."

Later that evening at a Mayo Ladies County Board Meeting, the board voted to appeal the decision of the Connacht council to reinstate Carnacon back into the championship, with the board voting 30 to 3 to do so. Mayo LGFA secrectary, Kevin McDonnell, told the Mayo Advertiser yesterday morning that the board would be lodging their appeal by yesterday evening, with it expected to be heard very quickly afterwards.

The following morning, Carnacon player Cora Staunton spoke to Newstalk's Off the Ball AM show and said: "We acknowledge that none of them girls that were in the panel at the time – maybe 20 other girls – have witnessed anything of concern,” she said.

"But that doesn’t say that nothing has existed. They may not have witnessed it but that’s not to say it didn’t exist. There’s issues there, they’re very sensitive and personal to the people involved.

"We have been very dignified and we’re not using the media or places like that as a platform to air our problems. We want these problems sorted and investigated. None of that has happened.

"We had certain reasons for walking away and because of this we’re being punished because eight girls from one club decided to walk away.

"The 14 people that left the senior team in July all left for the same reason. I think that’s been lost out there.

"We feel it’s nearly a witch-hunt on the club at this stage. From the off, the way to go was punish Carnacon, the standard bearers in Ladies football for the last 20 years in the county. It’s hugely disappointing that we’re being treated this way.

When contacted by the Mayo Advertiser this week, the Ladies Gaelic Football Association said it would not be getting involved in the issue at the moment stating: "Not at this point in time as the process is still ongoing through official channels in Mayo/Connacht."

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