Onus now on Mayo GAA clubs to seek clear answers

by Aiden Henry

THERE is no getting away from the fact that Mayo’s defeat by Tyrone in the recent All-Ireland continues to hurt the green and red supporters.

With reports of an alleged fallout between some members of the team management during the course of the game with Tyrone in Croke Park and in the aftermath of the match, there is a widespread belief throughout the county that questions need to be asked, and answers given, as to what really happened.

Rumours throughout the county over the past week that selectors Ciaran McDonald and James Burke were ready to pull away from James Horan’s management team has also added fuel to the fire.

Indeed, if McDonald in particular was to pull away from Horan’s team if he felt it was unworkable to stay involved, this would surely put further question marks over the present Mayo senior team management set-up.

From the outset, let me first say that any criticism of any Mayo players is wrong and any abuse any of them on social media since the All-Ireland final is not warranted in any way, shape or form.

The Mayo players, like their counterparts in every other county, put their lives on hold when involved in a senior inter-county panel.

The commitment they give is extraordinary. We also must remember that the players don’t pick the teams.

While it is every player’s dream to get in the county starting 15, especially if it is an All-Ireland final, they have no say in that.

Players just turn up for training, do the best they can, adhere to the management plan(s) and just hope they get the nod to start or be involved in the match-day panel.

Like it or not, running a county senior team is now a business between the county board and the senior team management.

For example, we can expect the total cost for running the Mayo senior team this year will be in the region of €1 million.

The people who have to fund all these costs – the clubs and county supporters – have a right to know what is right, and not right, regarding issues relating to the county teams they are supporting, major decisions on different GAA projects within the county, and most of all have their voices heard.

Is this happening presently?

When Mayo County Board chairman Liam Moffatt was asked for a statement on the rumous surrounding the senior management, the reply was no comment.

Then, on Sunday night, the county board issued a statement thanking players, team management, backroom staff and supporters for all of their efforts during the 2021 inter-county season, noting the great progress made during the year, condemning the personal attacks on players and management since the All-Ireland final, and mentioning a planned meeting between board officers and the management team to review the season gone and plan ahead.

There was, however, no mention of the alleged management fallout. Also noteworthy was the line: "We acknowledge that with so many changes to this year’s panel, great progress was made during the season."

In reality, there wasn’t any new player that started the All-Ireland final against Tyrone who wasn’t on the panel last year. Indeed, all but one of the 26-man All-Ireland final squad was involved last year.

The fear is that when supporters' annoyance and hurt subsides, matters will be swept under the carpet and all the meaningful questions the county fans are now asking will go unanswered.

However, there is one way the questions can be answered – if the clubs demand them.

To do this, every club in the county should hold their own debate with their members regarding the county senior team management, list their own questions, and give them to their own county board delegate to bring up at the next full county board meeting and request answers.

The next county board meeting is scheduled for Thursday night next.