Paddy McNicholas statement – the full text
The following is the full text of the statement read by Mayo GAA Board chairman Paddy McNicholas at the County Board meeting on Thursday, September 25:
“After the resignation of James Horan and his management team, the officers of the Mayo GAA Board met and decided that it would be in the interests of Mayo football to have a new manager in place as quickly as possible. This would allow for planning for the upcoming League and hopefully to continue with the progress that has been made over the last four years by James Horan and hie team. The executive of Mayo GAA decided to look for nominations for the position and that these nominations should be in by Thursday, September 18, 2014.
“We were aware that Kevin McStay was interested in the position as he had stated on The Sunday Game that he would hope to get a call. We decided to make that make that call. I asked him if was interested and he said he was. We arranged a meeting with him, which took place on Monday, September 8. This meeting was a preliminary meeting to assess common ground and so that we could lay out our parameters to him. At that meeting, Kevin McStay requested that we wouldn’t mess him around and we wouldn’t leave him hanging if he wasn’t the preferred choice. We agreed that we wouldn’t mess him around. I and the other officers of the Board had great respect for Kevin as a Mayo man and a former Mayo player and we were delighted with his interest. It became clear however at the meeting that there were elements of his package that we were concerned about, and there is no doubt that he was aware of these concerns.
“The only other nomination was that of Noel Connelly and Pat Holmes and we met them on September 19. Again this was a preliminary meeting to set out our parameters and to see if we could establish common ground. It became clear there were no real issues between us in that regard.
"Later on Friday, September 19, at an executive committee meeting, an interview committee was set up comprising of the chairman, secretary, treasurer, coaching officer and PRO of the County Board. Its purpose was to interview the nominated candidates. I did not notify the executive of of our concerns about Kevin McStay’s package out of deference to the understanding I had with Kevin McStay. I decided I would contact him the next day to clarify matters and to see if we could come to an understanding that would be acceptable to him and the County Board, and we could then arrange the interview.
“I telephoned him on Saturday morning and again told him of our concerns of elements of the package that he proposed. It was not possible to reach any common ground in this regard. I said I would not be able to recommend his candidacy as a result. He asked if the other officers of the board were of the same view. I said they were. In light of his request and my commitment to not mess him around, I thought he would withdraw his nomination at that stage. Instead he said he was disappointed and there was no point in his attending for an interview if he had not got the backing of the principal officers of the County Board.
“At this point I would like to stress I had no agenda and was not in any way against Kevin McStay’s appointment as manager. I was delighted that we had interest from two great management teams, all former Mayo players, and either group would have been a great addition to Mayo football. I knew, however, that Kevin McStay’s package would not be acceptable to Mayo County Board and I as chairman would be failing on my duties to the board if I did not act on that.
“He [Kevin McStay] said would be issuing a statement later in the day. I asked him not to do so until after the Hollymount-Carramore v Belmullet match as Noel Connelly was involved in that match and he agreed to that. I then contacted the secretary and treasurer and brought them up to speed on what had happened during the day. I contacted the PRO and coaching officer, who were the other members of the Mayo Senior Football Team Interview Committee, and arranged a meeting for MacHale Park on that Saturday evening. I got a call from Kevin McStay at 4.20pm to say he’d been contacted by Newstalk and a local journalist who said they were aware he would not be attending for an interview. I told him that neither I or the secretary or treasurer had contacted any media organisation in relation to these matters.
“The interview committee met in MacHale Park at approximately 6pm. We discussed the situation and we were all concerned at the turn events had taken. We decided to contact Kevin McStay again to see if he would reconsider his position and attend for interview. We telephoned Kevin McStay to see if he would meet with us. He declined to meet.
“I then contacted, by telephone and in person, all available members of the executive, and I told them that as Kevin McStay would not be attending for interview, there was only one valid nomination and we, the interview committee, would be recommending that, subject to interview, Noel Connelly and Pat Holmes be appointed.
“The committee the prepared a statement which was agreed with Kevin McStay and this was subsequently released to the media. This statement was prepared and approved by all available members of the executive. It was incorrect in one respect. It stated that the Mayo Senior Football Team Interview Committee met with the Executive of the County Board. There was no such meeting and I regret this error. The available members of the Executive were however informed of our proposed recommendation of Noel Connelly and Pat Holmes subject to interview.
“There has been a huge amount of criticism of the way the whole affair was handled by the County Board and by me in particular. I regret in particular the statement which said there was a meeting between the Mayo Football Team Interview Committee and the Executive of the County Board. In our defence, we were dealing with an evolving situation, part of which was being played out on the national airwaves and on a day when there were county semi-finals taking place in MacHale Park. We were reacting to the situation and not in control of it, I accept that in retrospect we could have done some things differently. Hindsight is wonderful, and looking in the cold light of day at some of the decisions made, they must appear clumsy. But there was no conspiracy. At no stage did we try to favour one candidate over the other. It was clear to us that parts of Kevin McStay’s proposals were not acceptable to the County Board officers, and that there was no point interviewing him. Kevin McStay himself has accepted this.
“If you look at any of the statements made in person by Kevin McStay, there is very little that can be disputed and there is very little disagreement between us. However, statements made by others who were not present at any of these meetings are misleading and disingenuous. Our opposition to Kevin McStay’s proposal was not based on the fact that it was too radical and had too much change for the County Board. He was not told that his proposal was not good enough. But there were some aspects of his proposal that were simply unacceptable to the County Board. These were his proposals and terms, and I do not feel that I am at liberty to disclose them, and I will not be doing so.
“We are now in the fortunate situation to have a competent and committed management team, Noel Connelly and Pat Holmes, to recommend wholeheartedly to the County Board for approval. It would be a shame to lose sight of this after a process that has generated more heat that light and for which I have to take some responsibility.”