Mayo chief hits out at GPA after player stand-off

Mayo GAA Board chairman Mike Connelly has slammed the Gaelic Players’ Association, saying they were of “zero support” during the county’s recent managerial controversy.

Mayo chief hits out at GPA after player stand-off

Speaking to delegates at Sunday’s Convention in Hotel Ballina, the official described as “crazy” the process used by Mayo players ‘in getting rid of’ his brother Noel and Pat Holmes as joint managers.

Connelly, a member of the Hollymount/Carramore club — said the players’ vote of no-confidence which prompted their resignation was “totally unexpected”. He apologised to the two former joint managers “for the way they were treated” and, having outlined their major achievements on and off the field, concluded: “They owe this county nothing.”

The chairman hailed as “a great success” the joint managers’ achievement of matching Mayo’s 2014 championship record this year, losing an All-Ireland semi-final replay to the eventual champions. And he appeared to lay the blame for the defeat to Dublin firmly at the players’ door, saying: “If we could have eliminated a couple of mistakes on the field, who knows what may have happened?” “Where did it all go wrong?” he asked. “We did sign a charter with management; we did sign a charter with the players’ representatives, and the process used in getting rid of the management was crazy.”

The Corrib Oil employee also directed his ire at the Gaelic Players’ Association, saying he was ‘disappointed’ that the players’ body were of “zero support” during the controversy. The GPA must, he insisted, “play their part in resolving disputes”.

“We created the GPA,” Connelly told delegates. “We give them €2 million annually. We sign a charter that is agreed with the GPA. And in any organisation, when you have disputes, all the stakeholders get around the table to try and resolve issues in the best way possible for all sides. The reason they [the GPA] were set up in the first place was to make sure that players were looked after — which I totally agree with. Every inter-county player must be looked after, as they make huge sacrifices. The GPA must play their part in resolving disputes. Let’s move on.”

The 54-year-old said new Mayo manager Stephen Rochford was “well placed to take over this team”, having been an All-Ireland club title winner both as a player and as a manager. He wished the Crossmolina man and his back-room team “all the best for 2016”, and vowed that the County Board will “leave no stone unturned” in supporting him, his back-room team and the players.

Delegates also learned that the cost of preparing the Mayo senior football team fell by almost €35,000 in 2015 – but still accounted for more than a quarter of all expenditure. It comes after a similar drop of almost €37,000 in 2014. The financial statements revealed on Sunday show a rise of €6,000 in the overall income of Mayo GAA Board, a drop of almost €10,000 in expenditure, and a surplus of €94,979. Both income and expenditure topped €2 million. The Mayo senior football team’s administration expenses ran to €609,643, with travelling expenses down almost €80,000 on 2014 to €359,118.

Catering expenses were up €20,000 to €104,071, with sports-gear up slightly to €26,340. Medical expenses for the senior team were up €22,000 to €85,950. Overall medical expenses rose by almost €50,000 to €134,740, with the under-21 football team’s medical bills quadrupling to €25,187.

Former PRO and secretary Kevin O’Toole is the new treasurer, replacing JP Lambe, who steps down after 18 years in the position. Paul Cunnane becomes PRO, succeeding Aiden McLoughlin, whose five-year term has expired. PJ McGrath – a former GAA presidential candidate – is the new county board president.

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