Wednesday 22 May 2019

Mayo LGFA secretary says they were never made aware of 'mental health' issues in walk-out saga

The departed Mayo players spoke to the media last night Pic: @SineadKissane
The departed Mayo players spoke to the media last night Pic: @SineadKissane Newsdesk Newsdesk

Mayo LGFA secretary Kevin McDonnell has said that the county board were never informed of any mental health issues when they met with the players who left the panel this year.

It has been a dramatic 24 hours in the saga after the 12 players and two management staff who walked away from the panel staged a press conference last night.

The former members of the panel, who left ahead of a championship game against Cavan in July, said that they withdrew because they felt the environment under manager Peter Leahy was "toxic" and former captain Sarah Tierney outlined some of her interactions with Leahy.

They also said that the experience “had a significant impact on their mental health."

The Mayo LGFA released a statement this afternoon robustly defending Leahy.

Speaking on Off The Ball on Newstalk this evening, McDonnell said that no issues relating to mental health were raised with them when they met the departed players.

"That was new to us," he said

“What we had was a situation where players may have [had] an issue, and Peter [Leahy] would have raised things with us if he thought there was an issue. When we did raise those issues, there was nothing to be dealt with following on from speaking to those players.

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“In terms of mental health issues – these things can affect people in different ways. It takes over a period of time. When you look at this happening from 6 July onwards, for us and the county board, to now – which is over two months later – some of these things take a long time to sink in.

“So we weren’t aware of any mental health issues, or that wasn’t raised specifically at that meeting.”

Asked if there was a possibility of the 12 players returning to the Mayo fold, McDonnell added: "That is a decision that is entirely down to Peter. Peter is the manager and the manager picks the team. The County Board don't pick the team.

"I don't know of any County Board who would instruct a manager on who to pick in a team or to say that he must get these players back.

"They all have each other's phone numbers if they want to have conversations with one another.

"If players want to return and want to have a conversation with Peter, they are fully entitled to do that and Peter is fully entitled to pick the panel."

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