Tuesday 11 December 2018

Comment: Vague statement from those involved in Mayo walkout will only prolong unsavoury saga

Mayo manager Peter Leahy. Photo: Sportsfile
Mayo manager Peter Leahy. Photo: Sportsfile

Conor McKeon

THE final paragraph of the statement released by the 12 former Mayo footballers and two backroom team members who walked away from the panel reads: “We hope this answers the questions which have been in the public sphere.”

The statement is more than 900 words long but as a means to ending the controversy, doesn’t fulfil its duty.

While Peter Leahy (below), the manager, was specific and explicit in a recent interview on The GAA Hour in what he said he believed to be the reasons behind the fall-out, the disaffected former members of his panel were comparably vague in their statement.

The Mayo LGFA said in their own statement yesterday: “The walkout was an orchestrated move designed to make (Leahy’s position) untenable.”

Other than repeating that all 14 left for the same reasons and that it had nothing to do with team selection, as Leahy claimed, the players said their issues were over “a lack of communication, being undermined, intimidated, feeling isolated and eventually helpless in the entire situation”.

They added: “The whole experience had a significant impact on our mental health.”

However, specific incidents or interactions have been absent in all statements and interviews.

Allowing for personal sensitivities, the recent insistence of the remaining squad members that “no player welfare issues exist or have ever existed under the current management” means that only specific disclosure can justify or explain the actions of the dozen in the eyes of public opinion, if that was their intention in releasing yesterday’s statement.

Their original statement, released through the WGPA, was – according to the Mayo LGFA – an “orchestrated and calculated statement designed to create maximum impact, and garner maximum headlines”.

For all the obvious personal distress endured over the past month, questions remain unanswered by the estranged. Namely:

- How were they undermined?

- How were they intimidated and by whom?

- Where was the breakdown in communication?

In that last paragraph of their statement, the players express their wish that “we as a group hope that this will bring an end to a very tough time in all our lives”.

It may well do but those questions won’t simply go away.

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