'To say that Cora Staunton intimidates referees is an outrageous statement and it's very derogatory'

The Mayo camp are unhappy with comments made by Dublin manager Mick Bohan about Staunton.

Updated at 15:00

MAYO COACH PETER Leahy has taken exception to comments made by Dublin boss Mick Bohan in the build-up to Sunday’s TG4 All-Ireland ladies football final.

At a pre-final media event in Croke Park this week, Bohan remarked that Staunton, Mayo’s star forward, is guilty of “intimidating referees.”

Cora Staunton celebrates at the end of the game Donall Farmer / INPHO Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

“Cora has done things in the game that most fellas would dream of doing,” Bohan said.

“And she is well able to play it, knows how to get her frees, knows how to intimidate referees, knows how to do all the smart things on the field.”

Leahy, who was drafted in as a coach by Mayo manager Frank Browne eight weeks ago, is unhappy with the allegations made from the Dublin camp.

“His words about Cora were that she ‘intimidates referees,’” Leahy tells The42. “To say the best player who’s ever played the game in ladies football intimidates referees, first of all it insults referees that they can’t officiate properly with someone of her stature.

“Secondly it says that, being the best player in the country for I don’t know how many years now, she needs to intimidate referees. It’s a ridiculous statement, it’s a very insulting statement.

“He also said in a radio interview that we use head injuries to slow the game down. Now we had two serious head injuries late on against Cork. Both of them weren’t far off the end of the game.

“Both of them were serious hits and they were shown afterwards on TG4 that they were hits on the head. One of them resulted in a player being quite bad for a week and she went for a brain scan. To insult someone to say that they’re faking a head injury is a very, very large statement. In my opinion it’s a silly statement to make.”

Mick Bohan Dublin manager Mick Bohan Tom Beary / INPHO Tom Beary / INPHO / INPHO

Dublin are 1/3 favourites with the bookies and are featuring in their fourth final in succession, having lost the previous three to Cork.

Mayo are without an All-Ireland since 2003, but enjoyed impressive wins over Donegal and Cork to seal a first final appearance in a decade.

Leahy believes the favourites tag is not something that sits comfortably with the Sky Blues.

“In my opinion that comes from someone who’s not taking the favourites tag that well and is trying to push the onus back on the referees because Dublin are big favourites against Mayo and I understand why. Maybe he’s trying to deflect from it and he’s finding it hard to take this favourites tag.”

Leahy, who was coach of Westmeath minors in 2016 and led the Lake County’s ladies footballers to All-Ireland intermediate success in 2011, says Dublin have clearly brought aspects of the men’s game into their own play.

“I want to really put it in context. He’s obviously trying to influence the referee and that’s fine.

“They’re bringing male tactics into the game. They go on about the videos, I’ve sat and watched their videos and they’ve brought all the off-the-ball stuff – tracking the runners, hands on the runners, stuff that you’re not allowed to do.

“I think it’s great to see those tactics are coming into it, even though they’re not allowed. I appreciate Dublin defend with their hands on, they block runners they do what the men do. I’ve no problem with that.

“I’m a male coach myself and when I took over the Westmeath minors we were the same – we did an awful lot of that because they weren’t good at blocking runners.

“He (Bohan) is making it out as if it’s a one-sided affair. We’ve sat back and said nothing and allowed it to the referee, because it is a referee’s job. Whatever way the referee referees it, we’ve no problem. As long as it’s both ways.”

Sarah Tierney and Sinead Ahearne Sarah Tierney of Mayo and Dublin's Sinead Ahearne Morgan Treacy / INPHO Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

He believes Bohan is attempting to slow down Mayo’s game by getting into the head of Kerry referee Seamus Mulvihill, who is taking charge of his first senior decider on Sunday.

“It genuinely sounds to me like he’s afraid of Mayo because he wants the game slowed down. He wants the referee to blow us off the park because we are very fast, very fit and we move the ball very well. They know if we get a run on them they could be in trouble. It appears to me he’s trying to get into the referee’s head.

“I normally would never say a word because referees are clever enough themselves, if you start talking to referees telling them what to do they generally don’t like it. They don’t like people trying to dominate them and that’s what he’s trying to do.”

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