Mayo ladies manager Peter Leahy tells his side of the story 7 months ago

Mayo ladies manager Peter Leahy tells his side of the story

A group of 12 Mayo Ladies footballers left their panel in July.

That was ten days before they were to play Cavan in the first round of this year's All-Ireland senior ladies football championship. This ten left the panel on 'player welfare' issues.

They have not since rejoined the panel and in the meantime a host of rumours and speculation has taken place as to what these player welfare issues were.

The Mayo ladies manager Peter Leahy gave his side of the story to Colm Parkinson on Wednesday's GAA Hour Show.

"It's been a rough couple of months," he began.

Signs of this tension appeared in this year's Connacht final between Galway and Mayo in June. Videos circulated online of Cora Staunton taking a free off her teammate Sarah Rowe, and a few words being exchanged between the pair on the back of it.

"What happened on the field was Grace Kelly was supposed to take them off the right, and Sarah was to take them off the left," said Leahy.

"Cora took them...Cora and me talked about it afterwards and Cora said that it wasn't made clear to her (as to who was to be taking the frees.)

"We'll agree to disagree on that one...As far as everybody on the panel was concerned, that was fairly open and shut...Maybe it was my fault for not making it 100% clear," he admitted.

Mayo ladies

The management had made a good few changes on the team from last year's All-Ireland final. He's adamant that he was picking the team on form, but it was clear that there was unrest in the camp among some panel members.

After that Connacht final, it became clear to the whole panel that a split was occurring in the camp, so many of them voiced their concerns to the management.

"There were a lot of players coming to us expressing disappointment, they felt that the whole ethos of our set-up was changing," he said.

So the management realised they had to act.

"We had a meeting. We decided to go for individual meetings the following weekend," he said.

So these meetings were held. Individual, one-on-one meetings. In these meetings, the players who were unhappy expressed their dissatisfaction to the management, and the management gave feedback to the players.

"Some of the players weren't happy with my selection, simple as that. We only had nine players from the All-Ireland last year playing, that was a problem to a lot of them. In my opinion it's not a problem, it's whoever is the best goes on the pitch on the day.

"All my selectors, including the selector who has left, have agreed on every team selection we've made all year," he stated.

Those meetings took place over a Saturday and Sunday period. By the Wednesday, the Carnacon girls had let the management know that they wanted out. They obviously weren't happy that their qualms had been resolve by these meetings.

"On the Wednesday, we heard from our kitman, a Carnacon man, that the Carnacan girls weren't happy with the meetings and that they were quitting."

At the next training session, Leahy and his management arranged a chat with the players who's plans were to quit the panel.

We were supposed to have a five minute chat with the Carnacon girls, it ended up lasting the full training session...The conversation went nowhere, it was a selection (issue), it was 'oh my feelings are hurt...he said...' It was a feelings situation," he said.

Their feelings were hurt because of what he'd said in these individual meetings, Leahy claims. The only way their feelings were hurt was because of the areas he told them they needed to improve on to make this team. He used by way of example that he told one player they need to be quicker on the turn and that he said to another that he wants to use them as an impact sub.

Then by Thursday, they were out.

"On the Thursday, an hour and fifteen minutes before training the secretary of Carnacon rang me and said that she was pulling all the Carnacon players out under player welfare issues...I was stunned, the words player welfare completely knocked me back.

"I rang the county chairperson straight away and told them what had happened. I then went into the other girls who were training, and discussed with them that the Carnacon girls had left... I said, ye as players are entitled to know why, to go after them or to train, that's yer decision, I said I'm going to go out on the field and whoever wants to play, comes out.

"Every single one of the 26 went out and we had a fantastic training session," he said.

You can listen to more from Wooly's interview with Peter Leahy from Wednesday's GAA Hour Show right here.