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A full house and a big job for Horan


QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS New Mayo manager James Horan is interviewed by Mayo News Sports Editor Mike Finnerty on Mayo GAA TV last Saturday evening at MacHale Park, Castlebar. Pic: Michael McLaughlin


Mike Finnerty

THE club delegates, County Board officials and a few of us reporters were packed into the Dr Mickey Loftus room at MacHale Park like sardines last Thursday night.
“Ye must be expecting a big announcement, lads” chirped one wag as he breezed past the media table on his way to his seat. He was one of the lucky ones.
The scene resembled the Canal End for the 1989 All-Ireland Final as club delegates and members of the Executive tried to find chairs and tables that they could sit on before the fun started. A few lads had no option but to stand, but thankfully Kilmaine GAA club delegate, Sarah Callaghan, and East Board secretary, Mary Prenty, had seats.
Whatever people might say about Mayo GAA — particularly on social media (don’t mention the war) — it seems that chivalry isn’t dead just yet.
The evening had started out a bit like a kid’s birthday party — without the cake, balloons and goodie bags, admittedly — as Mike Connelly tried out the microphone in front of an audience that seemed to be a mixture of people who were giddy, tired, and curious. One or two had a few things to get off their chests too, of course.
“You’re all very welcome, it’s great to see such a full house,” smiled the chairman as he threw in the ball.
We’re not sure if we believed him.
The meeting lasted just over an hour and ten minutes.
It may or may not come as a surprise to learn that only around 90 seconds of that time was spent discussing the appointment of the new Mayo manager, James Horan.
That was how long it took the chairman to tell the room that Horan’s name was being ‘put before’ them for a four-year term.
Having had Horan’s name proposed (by John Farragher from Garrymore) and seconded (by Ollie Dillon from Ballintubber), and having announced some of Horan’s management team faster than an auctioneer, the chairman was asked to repeat the names again by one of the delegates.
That was one of only two questions posed from the floor in relation to the appointment of the new Mayo manager; the other was a query about whether or not Horan had discussed the issue of club fixtures with his friends at the top table.
And that was that.
The sound of awkward silence was all that could be heard until Mike Connelly wished Horan well in the ‘big, big job’ he had just taken on, and praised the fact that all of the backroom team was from Mayo. “It’s something that should always happen,” he said.
We wonder what Donie Buckley and Tony McEntee made of that comment?
Before Horan’s appointment was rubberstamped, Damien Lavin from Crossmolina GAA club had got to his feet to read a short statement thanking Stephen Rochford for ‘all he accomplished’ ‘with such professionalism and dignity’ during his time as Mayo manager.
“We hope in time the events surrounding his tenure, but unfortunately its ultimate untimely ending, will become a bit clearer and never to be allowed again,” he remarked.
In response, Mike Connelly thanked Rochford and added: “He put a lot of work into the team, [but] unfortunately came up short in year one and two”.
And then things moved swiftly along.
The most robust discussion and vigorous debate was saved for tackling the issue of whether or not Ballyvary Hurling club and Caiseal Gaels should get any of JP McManus’ €100,000 donation to the County Board for all Mayo GAA clubs.
After more than 20 minutes, and some frank exchanges, it was agreed to refer the matter back to a ‘Steering Committee’ for further discussion.
A short while later, after a few scuds were fired about ‘Rule 315 and the County Convention’ from Ollie Dillon, the chairman pronounced ‘the meeting closed’.
And everybody disappeared into the night.