NEW ROLES Pictured during an interview with The Mayo News before the 2017 All-Ireland Senior Football Final were, left to right: current Mayo Under-16 football manager Seán Deane, current Mayo GAA Board chairman Liam Moffatt and current Mayo senior football manager James Horan. Pic: Conor McKeown
‘THE club comes first.’
That’s the emphatic message from Mayo Under-16 football manager Sean Deane as he and his management team begin the process of selecting a squad for this season’s Ted Webb Cup competition.
Deane, who has managed various underage teams in his adopted club, Breaffy, is well aware of the perception that exists of county managers ‘pulling rank’ on clubs and forcing players to choose.
However, he says that is not the way the Mayo Under-16 management team operates.
“Player welfare is a big thing, and a very important aspect for us.
“But, ultimately, you start with your club and you end with your club. So our philosophy has been that you play with your club.
“We train on a Saturday morning, a training session is probably from 9.30am to 11am, so it’s early.
“What we would like is that if there’s a session in a club on a Friday night, that the lads who are in the Under-16 squad would be allowed to miss training, maybe attend it but not train, so that they get every opportunity to perform as good as they can on the Saturday morning.
“If a club has a game on a Friday evening, absolutely, there’s no question or doubt about it, they play with their club. We’re informed of that then so the player has more of a recovery session with us, rather than going at full tilt.
“But the club comes first.”
The issue of some young players in Mayo’s Under-16 panel reportedly being told that they could only play for certain periods of time in certain league games with their clubs was raised by Westport GAA in a motion submitted to last December’s County Convention.
Westport GAA said at the time that one of the aims of the motion was to prevent situations where ‘any player will feel pressured in any way not to play with their club’.
However, Seán Deane said that motion ‘had no validity whatsoever’, and highlighted the need for ‘adult to adult’ communication around such issues.
“We have to remember that these guys are 15 and 16 years of age,” he said.
“Communication, in terms of the conversations we have with them, can sometimes be misinterpreted by a young guy — which is understandable, because there’s a lot going on in their lives.
“Obviously, yes, there seemed to be a miscommunication, not on our part, because I’ve explained our philosophy.
“But, yes, there was a motion raised at the Convention which had no validity whatsoever.
“But what I would like is that if any player says to their club, or club manager, that X, Y or Z has happened in the county set-up on a Saturday morning, I just would expect that the club manager would pick up the phone to me and say, ‘Seán, what’s the situation here? My player has said ‘X’ and I’d like clarity on it, adult to adult’.
“As opposed to running with something that has no validity.
“If clubs have any questions about the Academy, come and talk to us,” he added.
“And if any coaches would like to come in and see a session, or how it’s constructed, they’re welcome to do that. The door is always open.”