Mayo ladies told they shall not be going to the ball

## ## The vote to throw them out was 46 1 and Mayo, noticeably, did not have either of their two delegates at the meeting.

The first of their teams to be affected could not be more high profile; their senior All Ireland champions were due to play Waterford in the National League semi finals this weekend.

However, the Ladies Gaelic Football Association said yesterday that the door is still open to Mayo to try and solve this impasse which many believe is headed for the High Court.

“No appeal can be made to Central Council but if Mayo can come up with evidence to support their case, they can appeal it to our Activities Committee,” said ladies football chief executive Helen O

“We got permission from Central Council on Wednesday night to convene a meeting of our 18 person Executive at any notice, so if Mayo do decide to appeal, we are willing to travel immediately to meet and try to resolve this,” she said.

O said the decision to throw Mayo out of the Association was not taken lightly.

“But we have exhausted every channel on this issue and been in arbitration with two different mediators and numerous meetings since last November,” she added.

“This was not an easy decision for our delegates to make, especially as Mayo have been a very valuable part of our organisation but there has to be a governing body with rules and regulations in order for our games to develop,” she added.

The dispute has raged ever since the association insistence last summer that all teams who reached the All Ireland semi finals and finals had to wear O jerseys.

Mayo had already done a major sponsorship deal with Azzurri beforehand to wear its gear, ahead of Central Council decision to sign up for a major new sponsorship with O

Mayo wore their Azzurri jerseys for the warm up and post match interviews in the semi final but wore the O shirts in case they would be banned from the subsequent All Ireland final.

But they threw caution to the wind for the final against Dublin and wore their Azzurri jerseys on the big day and were subsequently hit with a ?22,000 fine which they have consistently refused to pay.

In the latest attempt to solve the dispute, Connacht (men Council Secretary John Prenty was appointed as mediator and he made a series of recommendations.

It appears Mayo were agreeable to most of these but still baulked at two: that they would still have to pay a reduced fine (of ?2,200) and that they could put a motion to Central Council to change the ruling on O jerseys and would be given a special to maintain their deal with Azzurri for next season.

Ironically O are also the sponsors of the first women football All Stars team which was announced last winter and it leaves for New York in ten days time when they will play a big exhibition game in conjunction with the men Connacht Championship game between Mayo and New York.

Four of Mayo All Ireland winning stars Nuala O Helena Lohan, Chris Heffernan and Michelle McGing are on that All Star team.

But O clarified yesterday that the ban on Mayo activities as a County Board would not impinge in any way on their All Stars and their involvement on that trip.

Mayo have been one of the women game greatest advertisements in recent years. They have taken over the mantle previously owned by Monaghan and Waterford, won four of the last five All Ireland senior finals and provided marquee players like Cora Staunton, Lohan and the Heffernan sisters who have attracted huge media coverage to popularise the sport.

This row has marred what has been a time of great growth for the game and the negative publicity could not have come at a worse time. As well as the All Stars trip, the association is due to unveil a new sponsorship deal with a sports drink company in Croke Park next Monday.

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