For O’Hora it was unfortunate that the players didn’t return to the panel and their absence was duly noted particularly against their Connacht rivals Galway: “There was a difference in the level of experience. They froze on Sunday, I just think the last five weeks has Despite her beloved county Mayo being on the receiving end of a heavy defeat to Galway in the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Senior Football Championship quarter-final on Sunday, former captain Diane O’Hora is optimistic about what lies ahead for Mayo.
The past few weeks have been problematic and unfamiliar for Mayo. The withdrawal of 12 players ahead of their championship clash with Cavan rocked not only the county but the country in general. Player welfare issues were the reasons cited but the majority of the panel stayed on for manager Peter Leahy.
Due to the departure of those players new players came in and were given their chance to impress. O’Hora admitted to Sportstalk that despite the defeat on Sunday the reaction has been positive: “The reaction is positive and optimistic. 16 players have had championship debuts. The numbers of 1 to 12 on Sunday only three of them ever played in an All-Ireland quarter-final. The fact that Peter was still bringing in players up until last week it shows that girls want to come in and play for Mayo.”
The former All-Star is proud of what her county achieved especially without 12 experienced players. Would any other county cope like Mayo did? “I don’t know,” said O’Hora. “You’d never have seen the likes of it. 12 players is a lot to lose. It’s amazing what they have achieved.
Looking back on the All-Ireland series for Mayo, O’Hora believes the most important game for them was the first one against Cavan: “With everything that happened the game they needed to win was Cavan. If you look at it now Cavan are in a relegation battle with Tipperary. That would be the on lingering onset of the withdrawal of the 12 players if that had happened. That’s so damaging for a county. You might not get back to senior; you have to win an Intermediate All-Ireland to go back to senior.”
taken an absolute toll on them. They’ve got on with it and worked as well as they possibly could but you are limited in what you can achieve in two weeks because you are coming off one championship match and you need to recover and then prepare for the next game. I think the whole thing fatigued the players mentally.”