Frank Browne has stepped down as manager of the Mayo ladies senior football team following the recent TG4 All-Ireland final defeat against Dublin, writes Jackie Cahill.
During his three-year spell at the helm, Wexford native Browne presided over a Connacht title win, as well as appearances in the Lidl League Division 1 and All-Ireland deciders.
Browne confirmed the news this afternoon and expressed pride in the fact that Mayo have now returned to “the forefront of Ladies Gaelic Football at the highest level.”
Mayo may have lost against the Sky Blues by 12 points but they claimed the scalps of a fancied Donegal and last year’s winners Cork en route to the September decider.
Mayo were also hamstrung in the final by sin-binnings for three players – and they were just three points down when Orla Conlon was yellow-carded inside the final ten minutes.
Browne said: “I wish to announce that I will be stepping down as Mayo ladies’ senior manager, following my three-year term, with immediate effect.
“During that time I have overseen what I feel is our county coming back to the forefront of Ladies Gaelic Football at the highest level, culminating in our loss to Dublin in the 2017 All Ireland final, in what was the largest attended female sporting event in the world.
“I would like to thank Mayo LGFA county board for supporting myself, the management team and the players throughout my term of office.
“I would like to thank our team sponsors, Elverys Intersport, for their continued support of our teams and indeed many individuals who contributed financially and otherwise towards our journey and preparation.
“I would like to thank Sean Julian of Treanlaur Catering not just for his food but more importantly for his advice, goodwill and good humour.
“Napoleon Bonaparte said that ‘an army marches on its stomach’ - you always ensured that that was the case for us.
“I would like to thank Jen Murphy for all the caricatures, you made many a long drive home on a winter’s night from training fun with your work.
“I would dearly and especially like to thank my wife Deirdre and daughter Holly for their unflinching and unwavering support throughout the journey.
“Without that support, it would just not have been possible.
“When the pressure was really on, it was Deirdre’s counsel that I sought most, and most of the really crucial decisions were made in our kitchen.
“I would like to thank all the people who supported the team through thick and thin, and the members of the media both print, radio, TV and all the various social media platforms for their courtesy and professionalism and support of our cause.
“I would like to thank all the members of our management group, both past and present, for their unwavering belief in our dream and the thoroughness of preparation not to the smallest detail, no job was either too small or too big to be completed.
“I have learned so much from you and made many friends.
Finally to the players. Honesty, dedication, decency, trustworthy, loyalty - all the words in the dictionary couldn’t sum up the talents that this group of people bring to the jersey.
“I am proud to say that we have built a team which will compete and win at the very highest level but more importantly, we have left Mayo Ladies Football in a better place.
“And even more importantly, we have created role models that every young female footballer can aspire to be.
“To the rest of the world we are a team, to ourselves we are family. It’s been an honour and a privilege.”
With confirmation of Browne’s departure, thoughts will now turn to the futures of long-serving stars Cora Staunton, goalkeeper Yvonne Byrne and Martha Carter.
The trio decided to remain on for a crack at landing the Brendan Martin Cup in 2017, following a heart-breaking one-point semi-final loss to Dublin last year.
A hugely-popular figure with the players, Browne’s departure leaves a huge void for Mayo chiefs to fill.
He brought the team to a first All-Ireland senior decider since 2007, when he was also at the helm as Mayo lost out to Cork.
Mayo were Connacht senior champions in 2016 under his watch.