DOUBLE ACT Former Mayo footballers Kevin McStay and Liam McHale were both on duty in Bekan last week with Roscommon CBS. Pic: Mike Shaughnessy
Even the thick cloud of fog that had engulfed the Connacht Centre of Excellence in Bekan last Wednesday morning could not manage to hide the unmistakable figure of Liam McHale as this reporter parked his car.
Kevin McStay, not as physically commanding as his county selector, came into the picture the closer we got.
What were the Roscommon senior manager and his brother-in-law doing in Bekan on a cold, damp Wednesday morning, a week out from Christmas, we wondered?
Surely they hadn’t travelled to the outskirts of Ballyhaunis to watch the Connacht Colleges Senior ‘A’ League semi-final between Rice College, Westport and Roscommon CBS to try and source new talent for the 2018 season?
A few of us local journalists tried to figure it out — surely the Rossies aren’t that stuck, that they need some 16, 17 and 18-year-olds to freshen up the current squad?
No, it turned out the two former Mayo All Stars were coaching the Roscommon CBS side. An intimidating sight for the Rice College lads, no doubt, you would imagine.
One thing is for certain, however, Bekan last Wednesday morning was a far cry from Croke Park in the height of summer. Well, it’s a far cry any Wednesday morning, but less than seven days from Christmas you’d forgive the duo for not retaining the same level of commitment during the summertime.
Not these two though!
They were as animated, analytical, and enthusiastic as if it was the beginning of May, with the football fast and the weather warm.
McHale was relentlessly searching for areas of improvement, encouraging initiative and spotting mistakes. “Did you see that Kevin? He had him bet, but he turned back inside,” he stressed. No doubt that will be brought up in the next training session.
McStay too was in no room for messing. This was a game to be won, nothing more, nothing less.
A bit of wrestling for the ball in front of the Ballina native in the first half had him animated. “You’d want to calm down,” he said to Fintan McManamon after the Burrishoole man, keeping to his name, put himself around. “Did you see that ref? Number eight would want to calm down!” McManamon jogged back into the fog.
McStay and McHale too, not long after the final whistle.