OFF LIMITS A general view of Croke Park as Dublin’s Dean Rock scores a goal against Mayo during last month’s All-Ireland SFC Final which was played behind closed doors due to Covid-19 restrictions. Pic: Sportsfile
THREE members of the Mayo senior football squad backroom team have each been suspended for three months because they entered Croke Park for last month’s All-Ireland Final without official accreditation.
Mayo GAA confirmed the news last weekend while they also stated that ‘these individuals attended the game without the knowledge’ of Mayo manager James Horan or County Board officers.
In a statement released on Saturday, Mayo GAA did not name the three people who have been disciplined, but The Mayo News has confirmed that all three were members of Mayo’s ‘support team’ in 2020.
The Mayo News understands that Croke Park officials had detected the non-accredited trio entering Croke Park without permission on CCTV before the All-Ireland Final on Saturday, December 19 and had subsequently requested an explanation from Mayo GAA chiefs.
Under GAA rules drafted due to Covid-19 restrictions, competing teams were allowed to grant access to a total of 40 personnel on match days; their 26-man playing squads, along with 12 backroom members, plus two county board officers.
However, for both the All-Ireland Hurling and Football deciders, as well as the football semi-finals, additional panel members were cleared by the Department of Sport, in consultation with the GAA and other sporting organisations, to be present on match day.
For the All-Ireland football Final, all members of the extended Mayo playing squad were in attendance at Croke Park.
But the number of backroom members permitted remained unchanged.
The Mayo News understands that on reviewing CCTV footage from one particular area of the stadium, Croke Park officials were able to make a clear case to Mayo that the GAA’s Covid-19 regulations around access to the ground had been broken.
Mayo GAA published a statement on their website last Saturday morning, confirming that the matter had been reviewed, admitting that there had been a breach, and explaining the disciplinary measures that had been taken.
“Mayo GAA has examined the issue of the presence of unaccredited backroom team members at last month’s All-Ireland Football Final,” the statement began.
“Following a review process, all unaccredited members of the backroom team admitted their mistake, apologised sincerely for their actions and have been suspended for 3 months.
“These individuals attended the game without the knowledge of the County Board’s officers and the team manager.
“Mayo GAA would like to place on record their commitment to the GAA and the Government’s Covid guidelines, all of which are in place for the safety and well-being of our players, members and the wider community.”
The respective suspensions for the three backroom team members will start at the beginning of the official inter-county season; teams are due to return to official, collective training at the end of this month while the National League is provisionally scheduled to commence on the weekend of February 27/28.
However, this could now to be closer to mid-March due to rising Covid-19 numbers.
The Connacht championship is due to start in mid-April, but could also now be pushed back.
Regardless, the suspended trio look set to miss being involved in the Mayo set-up for at least 50 percent of the 2021 inter-county season were Mayo to qualify for the All-Ireland senior final on the weekend of July 17/18.
A Mayo GAA spokesperson confirmed to The Mayo News yesterday (Monday) that the three-month bans ‘precludes those individuals suspended from all GAA activity during their suspension period’.
As a result, James Horan will now need to look at drafting in replacements for some or all of the backroom team members affected.