'For sake of Mayo football, saga must come to an end' - John O'Mahony
John O'Mahony has urged the various warring parties in the Mayo GAA funding saga to embrace independent mediation.
The impasse between Mayo's county board executive and the Mayo GAA International Supporters' Foundation has spiralled into potentially even more damaging terrain this week, with clubs caught in the middle.
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Against the backdrop of an emergency meeting of board delegates, called for tonight, the county's former manager has expressed fears about longer-term ramifications for Mayo football unless a peaceful resolution is found.
"I would appeal to all sides to get some mediation on this, some resolution to this, because otherwise it seems to be just getting worse," O'Mahony told the Irish Independent.
The Fine Gael senator, who has twice managed Mayo and led Galway to a brace of All-Ireland SFC titles in 1998 and 2001, added: "It needs to come to an end, and quickly, because the focus needs to get back on the pitch and that will be starting in a few weeks' time.
"For the sake of Mayo football, it needs to be done because Mayo have been the envy of a lot of counties from the point of view of support and performance on the field in the last ten years - and we need to get back to that.
"It's not a great scenario for James Horan. I'd have sympathy with him as well, with all this going on in the background."
The stand-off between Mayo GAA chiefs and the supporters' foundation - fronted by Tim O'Leary, an English-born financial trader with Mayo roots - has taken several further twists this week.
Tonight's emergency board meeting, starting at 8pm, was announced yesterday by Mayo GAA secretary Dermot Butler.
The move came after seven clubs challenged the nature of a vote of confidence in the county board taken at Monday night's 'in camera' meeting.
That meeting had been called to discuss the ongoing impasse, but detailed discussion did not take place on legal advice after a letter from a London-based law firm, representing O'Leary, warned against potential defamation.
The board insists that because there was no objection to the vote of confidence proposal, an actual vote was not required… but this version has been contested by several clubs on social media.
Meanwhile, another Monday night vote to prohibit the media from future board meetings was carried by a show of hands.
However, it could be argued that this policy has exacerbated the breakdown in trust between the top table and some clubs.
O'Mahony touched on this: "While there needs to be a resolution found behind closed doors, I don't think that should include banning the media from county board meetings."
The manager-turned-politician went on: "The irony here is that all of the parties involved want to see Mayo succeeding.
"They want to promote and develop GAA in Mayo, and yet they seem to be totally entrenched in their opposition to each other. And that's sad to see.
"As a team manager in the past, I see the benefit of people and teams working together to be successful."
He said there was a "huge need now for everyone involved, with the goodwill of Mayo at heart" to find an amicable settlement.
On the general subject of governance in sport - a core issue at the heart of Mayo ongoing saga - O'Mahony has a particular interest given his own involvement on the Oireachtas Joint Committee of Transport, Tourism and Sport.
That committee had a pivotal role in inquiring into the FAI's financial crisis earlier this year.
"I have become very conscious of it, because we had to deal with it at committee level with recent events in the FAI," the FG senator pointed out.
"It (governance in sport) mightn't have been always top of the list, but it certainly is top of the list now.
"And it can be carried on. The example of the Olympic Federation (of Ireland), how that has been turned around, demonstrates that all of this can be done with no side-effects or ill-effects.
"The GAA is this space now, if you like, or these county boards are in this space. I think it's very important that all the governance is put in place."