Tuesday, July 13, 2021

A former All-Star winning Mayo forward has blamed county officials right across the county for what he describes as the “habitual slaughter of the innocents” and is demanding they take immediate action before all life is sucked from the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship.

Mayo’s Ryan O’Donoghue celebrates after scoring a goal against Leitrim. Picture: INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Kevin McStay made his comments in the wake of Mayo’s 24 points drubbing of Leitrim last Sunday in the Connacht SFC semi-final which he said was “excruciating” and “humiliating” to watch.

Writing in the Irish Times, the Ballina native, who spent several seasons in joint and sole charge of the Roscommon senior football team, believes Mayo’s cakewalk over Leitrim could be a defining moment in the movement for change from the traditional provincial championship format.

“It has become painfully clear to everyone that the charade of the Big Day Out has to stop,” writes McStay. “It simply isn’t fair to pit an average Division Four team against an elite team on a mission. Mayo-Leitrim was live on television and it made for macabre viewing. Who wants to see young footballers humiliated like that? What is the point? Whom does it serve?”

Highlighting Mayo’s previous 20 points defeat of Sligo, Westmeath’s 22 points hiding of Laois, Limerick’s 18 points win against Waterford and Kerry’s 17 and 11 points victories against Clare and Tipperary, to name only some of the lopsided scorelines in the championship so far, Kevin McStay said the embarrassment served on Leitrim was a trend and “just the culmination of a grim few weeks”.

GAA pundit and former Mayo footballer, Kevin McStay

“When the mood swings to pity, then you know you are in the sinkhole. Sorrow was the only viable emotion you could summon for Leitrim’s plight. How did they even bring themselves to leave the dressing room at half-time? This was humiliating.

“I feel like I have been arguing this point here and elsewhere for a long time. These games – this habitual slaughter of the innocents – is sucking the life out of the championship. It is in danger of becoming a black joke,” argues McStay, explaining who he believes is to blame.

“The officials are responsible. Players, media and pundits can highlight the dire reality of inter-county GAA for teams like Leitrim. But county officials have a voice. Chairmen. Secretaries: they need to say no to this. They have a vote. And they need to make it felt. If they agree to these annual hammerings, then why should anyone else intervene?”

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