what's next

Mayo boss: 'Nobody died. I don’t mean that in a flippant way but we lost a game of football'

Frank Browne reflects on his side’s All-Ireland final loss, and looks to what’s next for Cora Staunton.

MAYO MANAGER FRANK Browne quietly slipped into the Croke Park media area not long after Sinéad Aherne lifted the Brendan Martin Cup yesterday.

Frank Browne Mayo manager Frank Browne. Tom Beary / INPHO Tom Beary / INPHO / INPHO

At the time, Dublin players were in separate huddles around the room, sharing their joy and elation moments after they were finally crowned All-Ireland champions after three consecutive decider losses. / YouTube

Browne stood, a broken man, knowing what would come next. Within seconds, he was lost in a flurry of journalists and tape recorders, asking for his immediate reaction.

“We’re just extremely disappointed,” he began. “I think the scoreboard flattered Dublin a little bit and I don’t mean that in any way as a disrespectful way to great All-Ireland champions.”

The outcome was still very much in the melting pot as the clock showed 50 minutes — Dublin leading 1-10 to 0-10 — but three late goals sunk Mayo as they were dealt a third yellow card and lost Orla Conlon as the ‘final nail in the coffin,’ as Browne alluded to.

“I think we had a decision to make with ten minutes to go, we were a couple of points down and a player down and do we go and die with our boots on and try and win this game or sit back? We went to try and win the game, left holes at the back, the couple of scores went in.

“But we’ve no complaints – some of the decisions around the yellow card were interesting to say the least. I’d like to have a closer look at them again in terms of the free count and foul count.

“I wonder was the referee got to with all the stuff that was going on during the week but fair play to Dublin, they won the game and fair play to them.”

The ‘stuff that was going on during the week’ which he refers to is of course the war of words that broke out between the two camps.

Carla Rowe with Sarah Rowe Sarah Rowe and Carla Rowe in action after the game. Morgan Treacy / INPHO Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

At a pre-final media event in Croke Park last Tuesday, Dublin manager Mick Bohan — who has since guided the Sky Blues to their first All-Ireland title since 2010, and just second in total – remarked that Cora Staunton is guilty of ‘intimidating referees’.

Mayo coah Peter Leahy then proceeded to respond, saying that the statement was ‘outrageous’ and ‘derogatory’.

And when asked if he thought the comments added an edge to yesterday’s showdown, Browne responded:

“I think the game was played in a good spirit alright. Some of the comments about Cora intimidating referees, for not just an icon of Ladies Gaelic Football but of Irish sport, I think it was a little bit over the top.

“We’re all locals here, we know Cora and we know the sports person she is, and how humble she is about the whole thing.

“I don’t think it put Cora off her game by any means, she’s too much of a professional to allow something like that, but it probably wasn’t really in the best interest of the sport.”

He insisted that they didn’t affect the camp in any way, and probably gave them ‘a little bit more ammunition’.

On a day which could be the last time we see Staunton in the green and red jersey, it was quite a mixed performance from the Carnacon stalwart.

Cora Staunton dejected A dejected Cora Staunton during the presentation. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

She raised seven white flags in total, four from frees, but hit some uncharacteristic wides — seven of Mayo’s eight in the first half alone.

The big question is what’s next? There has been a sense that this — her 23rd — could have been the 35-year-old’s last year on the inter-county scene, along with good friends and teammates Yvonne Byrne and Martha Carter.

But Browne was unable to shed further light on the subject shortly after the game.

“I don’t know,” he continued, when the future was raised. “The one question really would be about Cora and what she’s going to do. Far be it for me to make any decisions for her.

“She’s always said if she was fit, healthy and enjoying her football, she’d continue to play.

“We need to go away and lick our wounds, ease the pain a bit. Nobody died. I don’t mean that in a flippant way but we lost a game of football.

“Yeah it’s hard and it’s going to be a hard couple of days but like Mayo people all the time, we have character, we reinvent ourselves and we’ll come back in some shape or form.”

The Wexford native had yet to return to his heartbroken dressing room to address his players, but he knew what he would do.

“What will I say? First of all, I’ll express massive pride in them.

“We’ve all given three years of our life to try and chase this dream and now the dream is in bits.

“We won together and we lose together. A phrase we always use is that we’re family. What do families do when the pressure comes on? We’ll pull even tighter together and get each other through it.”

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