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It all got a bit existential on Tuesday night at the March Mayo GAA county board meeting when the very existence or not of a club got a thorough airing in McHale Park.
The curtain came down on Mayo’s involvement in the All Ireland series last Sunday as Tony Duffy’s brave and battling minors bowed out in the All Ireland semi-final. But 62 days on from Pearse Park in Longford and their senior counterparts’ exit from the championship in the first round of the qualifiers, how far has the shaping of the future of Mayo football gone since just after 9.30pm in the underbelly of the stand in Pearse Park, when John O’Mahony announced that he was standing aside after four years?
So Mayo have hung the ‘help wanted’ sign outside the front door again. Once the final whistle was blown in Pearse Park at around 8.25pm last Saturday, there was never going to be any other option. John O’Mahony wasted no time in putting to an end his four seasons in charge of the side once the dye had been cast and the terminal whistle on the game and his managment of Mayo was blown by Gearoid Ó Conámha in the fading midlands sunlight.
I got word earlier in the week that the wagons were circling ahead of Mayo’s GAA County Board convention on Tuesday night last at the McWilliam Park Hotel in Claremorris. It appears that Noelle Horan, the outgoing PRO, had a major difference of opinion with a number of county board officers regarding restrictions on her access to the county team’s dressing-room earlier this year. “Access all areas” apparently wasn’t a problem under the previous management and it would seem there wasn’t too much of a problem regarding her access to the dressing room earlier this year under the current management. Obviously something went awry at some juncture that sullied what appeared up to then to be the perfect harmonious relationship. There had been a number of verbal clashes at earlier meetings and it was generally felt that things might get a little ugly at the convention on Tuesday night. There was no pairing system in place for this meeting with all county board officers expected to attend to display a collective unity against the maverick! My informant tells me that Ms Horan distributed a pre-prepared script which she later read from. She had a right swipe at the county board executive, outlining instances when she was “constructively prevented” from performing her duties and other occasions when she was “repeatedly undermined” by members of the board. Her own club member, Mr Sean Feeney, the county secretary, came in for scathing criticism from her, suggesting that he had no right to criticise players for doing certain media work. The suggestion was that Mr Feeney wasn’t shy of using the airways himself when it suited him. It is difficult to comprehend what caused such a breakdown in “the family”, but I would offer that it will be quite some time, if ever, before we see Ms Horan seek a nomination to become an officer of the Mayo County Board.
I received a text immediately after the final whistle that simply asked ‘What happened Mayo?’ It was from a friend of mine who was convinced that Mayo would beat Meath last Sunday. It was not the first time I was asked that same question down through the years, but this time I wondered at its appropriateness. We may just have to accept the hurtful reality that we just were not good enough on the day. We could apportion blame on a sub-standard performance from the referee and his officials, but that would not in any way explain why we did not finish off an average Meath team, particularly when leading by four points midway through the second half. The reality is we just did not play well enough to win the match.