Terrible timing for ladies walk-out

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 story is all over the place today. Here’s a selection: RTÉ, Sky SportsIrish Times, Irish Independent, Irish Examiner, Irish MirrorThe 42, Sports Joe, Balls.ie.

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.

35 thoughts on “Terrible timing for ladies walk-out

  1. I’ts impossible to comment because info is way too sketchy. If it’s related to facilities etc then I would think mayo are better off than most counties and that would be a national issue fought by all counties United.
    I am a bit disappointed in the way ladies football has developed in the county since we emerged as a leading light. The concentration seemed to be on developing and dragging in best players to on club, carnacon. This certainly hindered a more even development of the game through out the county. But I could be talking through my hat.

  2. True-it couldn’t be any more vague but referring to ontheditches comment-yes – a long streak by any club doesn’t bode well but at least it was refreshing to see none of said club on the All-Ireland winning U14 squad

  3. Ontheditch, you most certainly are not talking through your hat, that is exactly what has happened over the years. The new senior county manager, regardless of whatever failing there may be on his part in the current issue, deserves credit for offering every player in the county, from every club – not just the historically favored clubs – the opportunity to trial for the senior squad. It was very much starting with a clean slate for everyone. This was not always the case.
    The problem here is that, as you said, the actual detailed issues regarding their stance has not been revealed. Also, you are getting down to club loyalties and possibly questioning players motives, some of these players have been wonderful servants to the game. Until more is revealed after this weekends game it is hard to have a solid stance on it.

  4. This is maybe going to come across as a bit controversial, but it’s certainly my view at this stage…Willie Joe, I wouldn’t let this get in the way of your quiet summer off from the blog. We’ve had all this before from the ladies panel, members of the playing squad with particularly strong personalities trying to steer the ship against management and backroom team instead of with them.

    Let them away off if they want to go. If they want to play for their county they will, if they’re packing it in the week of a big game, it’s likely their only priority is themselves.

  5. Until I hear more I’m with Declan on this, to have just half the panel walk out, while some players still in the panel are left in the dark, tells me that it wasn’t properly discussed or voted on within the panel? (As happened with the men’s panel, signed unanimous statement) to do it the week of a championship game is just throwing your teammates under the bus…. they really should have released a detailed statement airing their grievances …..

  6. The “personal” bit is key here I think, it’s unusual for details to be so sketchy so leads me to think that it is some sort of personal issue

  7. Fully agreed on the split idea within the camp. It really suggests a disharmony within the group dynamic which I am not one bit suprised at. There has been over the years quite serious divisions between members of the county panel, team managements and the county board and having witnessed/obcsrved some stuff first hand, well it leaves a lot to be desired. I personally know and have talked to players who have not only stopped playing for Mayo because of these divisions but have walked away from the game altogether.

    Obviously, we all wait for statements from the relevant parties to be delivered on what exactly has been going on, and if it is the case that it is simply down to standards, facilities, travel etc then one would have expected a unified front. I have my doubts however on that assertion. Mayo ladies football has improved in certain aspects, there are more clubs fielding teams now that were not involved say 10 years ago, or have been reborn again. The Gaelic for Mothers and others programme is thriving in many areas and in general underage county appointments have improved along with the. The senior club scene bar Carnacon is fairly competitive with a number of teams well matched at all three grades, which is the way it should be.

    On the opposite side of the fence however, at the moment bar Carnacon (and in fairness Westport at Feile level) our clubs struggle against sides from outside the county in Connacht club games, and our underage county teams struggle big time against Galway opposition. For those not in the know, you unfortunately find Mayo underage sides in the “B” competitions more often these days. Indeed this has transferred on to the county senior set up where although the odd appearance in finals has happened, there has always been an undercurrent of distrust of players, county board and management. Maybe this latest episode can finally bring issues to a head and the game can progress in the county.
    By the way pebblesmeller, you stated that you are/were involved in the ladies game at various levels (a bit like myself). I wonder have our paths ever crossed?? Quite possibly we have at one stage or another, hopefully our meetings were good natured and we shook hands after a hard fought game!!!

  8. When a player of the ‘Stature’ of Cora Staunton walks away… It is going to lead to allot of speculation… Cora was on RTE radio doing one of the qualifiers last Saturday… It will be difficult for her to be doing ‘Media’ gig’s if these questions remain unanswered… I don’t know the inside story… But the greater good for women’s football in Mayo should be paramount…. It’s hard for me to imagine a reason or a number of reasons that could have worsened player welfare in the last week that caused 10 player’s to walk out this week … It not good either for those trying to promote the Women’s game in Mayo… Either in terms of young girls taking up the game or supporter’s attending match’s…. Anyone walking away from the rest of the County Mayo Team, a few day’s before a big match needs to be able to articulate the reason(s) for such drastic action…If the reasons are valid, how can a solution be found, if the problems can’t be spoken about..Our women’s are a good team, got to last year’s All Ireland and the League final this Spring….. Personally I have the exact same attitude in respect to the Women’s game as the Senior Men… I don’t really care, what player’s play..or what Club they come from… Just so long as our best repesent us as best they can any time they take the field… And the management are one’s that decide..

  9. I am a long time away from Mayo without much connection with the county footballwise apart from following the county team to every nook and cranny down the years [Park openings in Ballycommon and Forgney as well as Parke and many others]. But I do believe the Ladies home base is the community pitch in Swinford because at one time they could not get the use of an official GAA ground. That does not indicate a great deal of support from the GAA in the county generally. I also recall hearing about players having to bring thhe own food to training sessions in the past. It seems easy to blame Carnacon for their domination of the game in Mayo but to what extent is that due to other clubs failure to match up?
    I have had some involvement in Ladies’ as well as men’s football in my adopted county and find that if clubs are not meeting players expectation regards training and facilities they are more willing than the men to move club. There is not the same tradition behind ladies clubs as behind the men’s and often there is no connection between men’s and ladies’ clubs in the same parish.

  10. The issue here is 10 walked away…why not the entire panel? Does not seem all are united….season is probably over for Mayo ladies now which is a real shame.

  11. As I understand ladies gaelic football is fully overseen by the LGFA.So this is not a GAA issue.
    You would imagine the available county budget is tiny compared to an ideal budget.
    You’d need to be part of the LGFA to know the on the ground details.

  12. Yes, JP, you’d need to be part of the LGFA to know the on the ground details. The biggest question to me is: why is the LGFA not part of the GAA as the handballers and the rounders players are? Is it the ladies players choice, their official’s choice or the GAA’s choice? In many clubs, as in my own, the ladies are equal members with the men and are represented on the club executive but there the equality seems to stop.

  13. I have found that with my own club that this issue of training and preparation is a big factor for women footballers. Haven spoken to some of the players some say that the training is too much and they are not prepared to put it in. Increasingly the issue is women being unsatisfied by the training and they are looking for more and better training as well as a more equitable share of facilities. This is where they tend to drift to bigger clubs. In our own club integration and fairness is not fully there though the club is working hard on it. I find that the women bring a different dynamic to the club – some good and some not so good. The good part is a freshness in ideas and generally a younger vibe. The problems relate solely to the idea that the ‘parish’ is not as strong with people from outside (mens) clubs coming in and the risk of women moving to other clubs. Having said that we find that more parents of women members become more active members of the club in general. Integration of both codes at national level is the only way to go but it appears that the LGFA is not in favour of such a move and at a local level many executives actively discourage amalgamation. I say One club, Equal treatment , No Division.

  14. It is strange that it seems it’s only personal and sensitive to the caracon players who all walked out along with their selector. The real reason wil come out in the end, hopefully all links can be repaired. Cora Staunton has been away and has learned how things are done properly in another code it’s a shame a player of her stature felt that this was the only option after years of service and achievements. Hope this is not the last of her and don’t believe it will.

  15. I need to appeal again to people to stop putting forward their own theories about why the walkout happened and casting aspersions on panel members in doing so. If you’re unable to stick to the facts, as they’re currently known, then please refrain from posting here on the issue.

  16. Is it true 2 more have left panel plus a selector, did not get the full report on Midwest this morning

  17. phenomenally low key build up for an All Ireland semi final coming this Saturday. New low altitude record for “under the radar” set.

  18. Sarah Rowe has been a strong advocate for player welfare and conditions and spoke very passionately about this topic in the media last year. Player welfare is referenced as one of the primary reasons for the dispute in the Mayo camp, interesting to note that Sarah has not departed from the team and is listed as playing against Cavan.

  19. Willie Joe, will ya get on with your owl holiday away from this place. Apart from the upcoming semi final in U20, everything else can wait, (in my humble opinion). We don’t want to see ya around these parts again til October!!!!!

  20. The LGFA and Camogie Association will never integrate with the GAA, IMO. It makes complete sense that it should happen, given the reliance on the GAA for playing facilities, but the politics are such that it is extremely unlikely.

    What will persist is the daft situation whereby you have club secretaries grappling with three different payment structures, rulebooks and the inevitable clashes of fixtures for dual clubs/counties.

    Utter madness.

    Good luck to the Mayo ladies at the weekend.

  21. Good luck to Mayo Ladies this weekend, difficult week for Mayo LGFA, for sure, but I think the team that takes to the pitch deserves the backing of the county. I hope these ladies can put all the controversy out of their heads and concentrate on playing the game.
    I am involved at club level and believe me its quite shocking when you see what is available to GAA players compared to LGFA players. Yes, two completely separate organisations, so why are we comparing? ? Well, in my experience the majority of people think LGFA is part of GAA!

    If your son and daughter join the tennis club or the swimming club, you would expect that both would be provided the same facilities, opportunities and treated in a fair and equal manner with exception to having different changing areas and toilets while training and competing in the boys and girls competion.

    When your son and daughter join the local Gaelic football club, they are in fact joining two different clubs. In some clubs this is managed very well, parents can pay family membership, fundraising is shared, facilities are shared and it appears seamless on the surface. This is more common in smaller clubs where it benefits to have the whole community working together.
    In my club, one of the larger ones in the county, the ladies club do not have access to the club facilities. Many reasons exist including the fact that the local mens club do not have space to accommodate another large club and they simply do not need us! This is not a bad reflection on the men’s club and I believe that they would gladly accommodate the ladies if they had the physical space.
    The events of the past week have opened a few debates that needs to take place. In the past few years we have seen great growth within our own ladies club, fantastic national sponsorship by Lidl and super television coverage by TG4. On a national scale the profile of LGFA has been raised, just look at the attendance for last years All Ireand. Great role models are being created for young girls, a vital ingredient needed to keep girls involved in sport. I sincerely hope that LGFA and county boards can support managers and clubs to ensure equality and fairness for all players.
    As stated previously, the reasons for the ‘walk out’ remain within the team, management and County Board, so I will refrain from speculating.
    However, this kind of drama is not good for the county team and does nothing to promote the game. Let’s hope it’s resolved sooner rather than later. HON MAYO

  22. Thanks, Jim! I still have that owl (correction, young) U20 match to go to tomorrow, though, before turning thoughts in earnest to the owl holidays.

  23. Mayo GAA Facebook:

    Following a Connacht final win over Roscommon last month manger Mike Solan makes just one change to his starting team. The injured Oisin Mullin is replaced by Colm Moran. Throw-in tomorrow in Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada is 4pm:

    1. Patrick O Malley – Westport
    2. Johnny Maughan – Castlebar Mitchels
    3. Brian O Malley – Westport
    4. John Cunnane – Ballyhaunis
    5. Paul Lambert – Westport
    6. Cathal Horan – Kilmovee
    7. Oisin McLaughlin – Westport
    8. Evan O Brien – Ballinrobe
    9. Jordan Flynn – Crossmolina Deel Rovers
    10. Nathan Moran – Hollymount/Carramore
    11. Ryan O Donoghue – Belmullet(Captain)
    12. Tommy Conroy – The Neale
    13. Conor Diskin – Claremorris
    14. Ross Egan – Aghamore
    15. Colm Moran – Westport

  24. Willie Joe… Enjoy the OWL holiday’s…. Hopefully everything in the Mayo GAA setup, both Male and Female, will be purring like an OWL Singer Sowing Machine by the time you get back!

  25. While I don’t really know what is going on I notice that no Carnacon player is on the ladies football team v Cavan and also that a selector from that club has walked away as well. Sad state of affairs overall, but at least it gives the girls from other clubs the opportunity to represent their county. Best of luck to them in difficult circumstances.

  26. Willie Joe. Still laughing at your comment at 12.30 today. Vintage stuff.

    Also i see from other comments that this owl “owl” business is catching on. YES.

  27. Best of luck to the ladies. It’s a young girls game anymore the owl time doesn’t be long going and catches up with the best of ones even owl auld ones like me. Sad end to Cora’s career if we are beaten today can’t seeing her playing next year at 37. But as Fr Ted Crilly might say good luck with the (owl) book

  28. Fair Play to the Women who represented Mayo so well today! 3.23…3.22 from Play, says it all really!.. Great Attack!.. A bit naive in defence at times, but only to be expected.. They will tighten up as well!.. Absolutely delighted for the Ladies!

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