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Learning to manage

michael moyles
MINOR ACHIEVEMENT Michael Moyles is hoping to lead Sligo to victory in this year’s Connacht Minor championship. Pic: Inpho

Learning to manage

Michael Moyles is drawing on his past experiences this year

Mike Finnerty

IF you thought you’d heard the last of Michael Moyles, you’d better think again. Not alone has the Crossmolina forward ended his self-imposed retirement from club football because of a back injury, but he’s also gone into inter-county management.
Nowadays, when the 31 year old isn’t training or playing with the club, he’s driving to Sligo minor training. There is seldom a spare minute between the organising, the sessions, the phone calls and the matches. Not that he minds. In fact, he wouldn’t like to be anywhere else.
Ironically, he could have been. You see, Moyles very nearly got the Mayo minor job two years ago. His name was thrown into the ring, he said he was interested and did the interview. While he was waiting for an answer, Sligo came calling too. As things panned out, Ray Dempsey got the Mayo post while Sligo wanted Moyles. And that was that.
“I thought it was a great opportunity,” he told The Mayo News last week. “I’m getting great managerial experience away from my own county and I’m giving it 100%. You feel a bit helpless sometimes on the sideline but you do as much as you can.
“I’ve also learnt an awful lot down through the years from the managers I’ve played under, the likes of Pat Holmes, John Maughan and Martin McHugh.”
That’s the things about Michael Moyles; he’s always wanted to be a manager. Even when he was winning Connacht championships, National Leagues, Sigerson Cups and All-Ireland club championships, he was watching how teams prepared and listening to what he was being told.
How training sessions were structured and organised interested him. He noted how managers interacted with players. Now he is trying to give Sligo the benefit of his experience.
“I would try and take the common sense approach as much as possible in the way I manage players. A lot of minors now have a lot of commitments between school and club and exams so I would try and be as flexible as possible.
“Some managers are very strict but I try and use my common sense and would like to think that I’m fairly approachable. At the same time though, if lads are taking liberties then you have to be firm.
“Professionalism is very important now too,” he adds. “All our lads are kitted out in the same gear now and I believe that when they walk around they should feel special, they should feel 10 feet tall, because they’re Sligo footballers. We want our lads to be professional, to get used to doing the right thing, and preparing the right way.”
That is a constant theme in Moyles’ philosophy; that to compete with the aristocrats of Mayo and Galway, Sligo must start behaving like them. He has seen the subtle differences and is committed to doing his best to correct them.
“Last year we got to within two points of Galway but this year I think we have more raw talent but we’re working on the cuteness. That’s one area where we’re probably behind some of the other teams. So far we’ve lost lost league games to Mayo, Roscommon and Galway by a couple of points in the last few minutes. We have to learn how to close games out.
“Plus, success breeds success. The Mayo and Galway minor teams always seem to have a bit of confidence that comes from the success of their senior teams. That kind of confidence is something that we’re trying to instil in our players. The mentality of being good losers is gone out the window. I want to be judged by our success,  not by bringing a team to within two points of Mayo.”
Now he gets his chance. Ten years of training teams, coaching at Cúl camps, and playing with Crossmolina and Mayo will all come down to one hour on the line. Summer holidays at school in Ballisodare means that the PE and Maths teacher is free to concentrate on the task at hand. Moyles says he knows what has to be done and that his team will be ready for the challenge.
“We try and play a free-flowing style and that’s why we have won a lot of admirers in Sligo this year. I was always taught by Crossmolina and by Mayo to keep it simple and that’s my approach. I don’t believe in the blanket-defence style of football but at the same time, whatever has to be done next Saturday will have to be done.”