Billy Joe Padden
IT’S really unfortunate that we’ve ended up talking about how Pat Holmes, Noel Connelly and the Mayo senior football panel parted company 14 months ago again in recent days.
It’s surely the last thing any of us wanted.
There are certainly two sides to this particular story, but I believe the most important thing now is that the Mayo players don’t make any comment in response to last Saturday’s interview with their old managers.
Nothing they can say at this point will make things better or help in any way. They just need to keep their counsel, enjoy their Christmas, and get back to playing football again in the New Year.
Unfortunately though, these latest revelations do nothing for the Mayo team in the short-term. It actually makes their job of trying to win an All-Ireland harder, and will be used as a stick to beat poor individual displays or collective failures.
People with axes to grind or agendas won’t need much encouragement to drag up the past again in the future.
For Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly, maybe doing this interview gives them some closure on the whole thing and will help them to move on from it.
Of course I can understand how hurt they must have been after what happened last year, and I can only imagine how difficult the whole saga has been for them. I genuinely feel sorry that things worked out the way they did for both of them.
But there’s certainly evidence in last Saturday’s interview of the breakdown in communication that obviously developed between the previous management and players.
In hindsight, maybe the players would have been better served by raising the issues they had with management earlier in 2015.
If Pat and Noel had been prepared to engage effectively with the players, then maybe they could have agreed an acceptable approach in relation to whatever the issues were.
From reading Saturday’s interview, it seems to me that Pat and Noel’s style of management, and the message they were trying to get across, just didn’t sit well with the players.
The word ‘ego’ cropped up quite a bit in the interview.
In my experience of dressing-rooms, if there are egos in a squad then it’s up to management to manage them. And if they’re unmanageable, then you get rid of them.
Nobody can tell me that All-Ireland-winning teams from the likes of Dublin, Kerry or Donegal don’t have guys with big egos or mindsets that take managing.
Management has to be about bringing all those different guys and abilities and egos together to achieve a common goal. People don’t have to like each other for that to happen, but there has to be effective communication and a respect for each other.
There’s obviously an ‘Us and Them’ there now but when Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly took over there should just have been an ‘Us’ in terms of them and the players.
When they began to drift apart, it became an ‘Us and Them’.
But the reality of any good management-player relationship is that you form a united team and that you win and lose together.
James Horan and the Mayo team won and lost big games together, and this year Stephen Rochford and the Mayo team did too. Everybody shares in the respective success and failures.
Everyone has to be in it together, or else the problems start.
I don’t see how any good can come from last Saturday’s interview in terms of helping Mayo football.
In fact, the only way that the senior team can take any positivity from this latest episode is if it creates a type of ‘siege mentality’ around the squad.
Something like this could galvanise the group even more but, at the same time, it’s also going to take a mental toll on the players next season.
If I was a player in the squad at the moment, I am certainly thinking on one level that our job of trying to win the All-Ireland next year has been made more difficult.
Coming back after losing to Dublin after a replay wasn’t going to be easy anyway; this interview just makes it harder.
There were far too many issues raised last weekend to discuss them all here, but I do feel it was bizarre to single out Alan Dillon for questioning why he wasn’t starting a championship match.
No player is happy when they don’t start, and if there’s an issue subsequently with their attitude around the camp then the player needs to be spoken to by management.
I don’t see why it merited a mention in the article.
It’s important now that Mayo supporters try and ignore all the rumours and emotion that are swirling around at the moment, and get back to concentrating on what’s going on inside the white lines.
The reality is that none of us outside a dressing-room know what the relationships are really like between players, and between players and managers.
Sometimes they can be good, bad, or even dysfunctional.
But it’s the manager’s job to manage those relationships.
And it’s the players’ job to get the best out of themselves.
End of story.