Mayo ladies manager Peter Leahy said he was ‘relieved’ for his team to have exited the All-Ireland championship in defeat to Armagh last Saturday evening, describing the last eight weeks since inter-county training resumed as the most difficult in his management career to date due to the pressures of Covid-19.
Leahy said that he had been against inter-county football returning at all in the middle of the pandemic and claimed that other inter-county managers to whom he has spoken, in both the ladies’ and men’s game, are similarly stressed in their roles – and partly relieved when their teams have been knocked out.
“I said from the start that I didn’t want this championship to go ahead. I think it’s wrong that we’re in the middle of Covid and the rest of the country is shut down and we’re still playing, because we’re not elite athletes,” stated Leahy.
“I spoke with one manager who went out of the men’s championship last weekend and he told me the relief he felt was huge. I hate being out of the championship but I feel a bit of that myself, the relief that I can get back to a normal life.
“The fact that we have no County Board doesn’t help. We organised today and organised staying up last night completely on our own. There’s an awful lot of onus on the management team.”
Leahy was critical of several aspects of Mayo’s performance in Parnell Park. He said his players had failed to take enough of their opportunities, lacked the energy they had shown at training in recent weeks and had allowed Armagh back into the game at a crucial juncture just before half-time despite having utterly dominated the second quarter.
“I feel we were beaten by the better team at the end of the day,” he said. “For large parts of the game I thought we were in control of it but we didn’t take our opportunities the same way that Armagh did.
“Even though we could have grabbed it at the end, I personally don’t think we fully deserved to win the match. I thought they were more energetic, I thought they wanted it more than us, which is very unusual for us. So I’m frustrated more than anything because we’re a better team than that,” he continued.
Asked whether he had given any thought towards his future with Mayo, Leahy said that he has one more year to fulfill on his contract and that he still believes there to be an All-Ireland in this group, but added that he would sit and reflect on what 2021 might bring over the coming weeks.
“We’ve developed a completely new team, a new set of players. I think they need a little bit more time. We’re not quite there on our strength and conditioning. But we’re very close,” he stated.
“So whether it be me or somebody else that takes it on from here – there is an All-Ireland in these girls. At the end of the day it’s going to be the choice of the girls as to what we do going forward.
“If they’re determined and they want to really have a go at this, I’ll be there to help them on it. But if we feel that it is a position where we’ve gone as far as we can and we can’t take it any further, we’ll sit and reflect.”