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Mayo GAA Board must get priorities right

Sean Rice
Sean Rice

Mayo Board must get priorities right



Sean Rice


THE appointment of a senior manager will not take place until the Mayo GAA Board completes a root and branch review of the state of the game in the county.
No decision on the shape of that appraisal will be taken until the next meeting of the board scheduled for the end of this month. If the probe is intended to be as thorough as the situation would appear to demand, no credible outcome can be expected until well into the autumn.
But is it necessary to wait until the review is completed to appoint a new manager? That’s the question many pose as Mayo senior football recedes into its familiar shell for another season.
Long-term benefits will be the main objective of whatever new structure is put in place in the next few months. The board is obliged to dig deep this time to get to the core of the problem. Serious action is imperative if standards are to be raised, and a competitive streak reawakened in our senior team.
It will take time. A hurried, patch-up job that papers over the cracks will not be good enough. The present football crisis is too serious for superficial tinkering.
It must be understood that nothing established by the review will bring immediate results. It’s a long overdue long-term process. New structures cannot be expected to produce desired results overnight. A new boss will, therefore, have to deal as best he can with the prevailing problems in Mayo football.
Whatever stimulus is needed right now will not come from any new concepts emerging from the think tank, but from the boss’s own acumen as he prepares his players for competitions in the immediate future.  No option is open to him but to work with the same bunch of players, more or less, that have done duty in the season just gone. He has to dance with the girls in the hall!
Therefore, since the review will have no more than marginal influence on the present situation any delay in appointing a new manager would appear to be imprudent. The review and the new appointment are separate issues. A newly installed manager would benefit from the long bedding-in period.
The various advantages to be gained from an early appointment include an opportunity to study performances first hand in the present county championships, to run a rule over emerging talent, measure what appetite remains in the senior players, and watch them perform in the FBD League final in America in October.
On foot of that information, he has time to plan during the dormant months of the remainder of the year, to talk with players, to implant perhaps a spirit of rediscovery in the old hands, and to build for the challenges ahead.
In the opinion of this writer the sooner a new management team is put in place the easier it will be for them to draw up an effective strategy for the new season. January is not the time for a talent search.
Meanwhile, let the inquiry begin. And let it be all embracing. Allow it to transcend the boundaries of clubs and boards and GAA personnel. Get the opinion of everyone who has an opinion to offer.
Go in to the highways and byways, the corners and nooks of the county and beyond where football is passionately discussed. For this is the last chance to root out the growing conviction that under achievement is and must ever be the course of events in Mayo football.

Major success for our minors
IT had been finely balanced for more than half an hour . . . until a gush of goals tipped the scales conclusively towards Mayo.
The goals had the stamp of class and powered Mayo to their third Connacht minor title on the trot, rescuing some scraps of comfort for the county from the wreckage of the seniors collapse.
Galway posed serious questions, especially in the first half, in winning the midfield contest and cutting off main channels of communication to their star forward line. That was unexpected since the Tribesmen were forced to start without their two key midfielders.
In the event, the midfield task was given over to captain Fionntan O Curraoin, and the Micheal Breathnach man kept their hopes alive with some fine fielding and support play.
Cillian O’Connor and Darren Coen had been singled out by Galway as the danger men. And with O Curraoin on top at midfield and Mark Loughnane curtailing O’Connor to three points from frees they were not without hope at the interval, flattered though they must have been by the quirky nature of their goal.
It came about when goalkeeper Paul Mannion, who had already saved a feeble effort by Paul Varley, was dispossessed by the wing-back whose tap-in commenced a short period of superiority during which they led by two points.
All that changed irretrievably after Danny Kirby’s goal twelve minutes into the second half. It came from a penalty tucked away with conviction by the midfielder after O’Connor was brought down in the rectangle.
The Ballintubber man had begun to show some of his magic a short while before the break, and when he ghosted by Loughnane and wound his way goalwards the foul that led to the penalty was inevitable.
Barely a minute passed when Darren Coen brilliantly flashed the ball to the net with his left foot rounding off a combined raid by Fergal Durkan and Kirby.
And when the full forward audaciously steered the ball — this time with his right foot — into the twelve inches of space between goalkeeper James Keane and his right-hand upright, the game lurched irreversibly towards the champions.
Mayo showed a lot of grit in defending the lead as Galway strove to bring some respectability to the scoreline. Under a lot of pressure, the entire backline refused to buckle, and Paul Mannion in goal recovered well after that early slip.
Danny Kirby and Sean McGarry did eventually sort out their midfield problems, but O Curraoin, and substitute Peadar O Griofa, at centre forward, were a constant threat.
How good Mayo are will only be known when they meet the tougher opposition that Offaly poses in the quarter-final. You can measure minors alongside past teams only with the extent of their progress and the quality of the opposition. How they perform outside the province is the litmus test.
One thing we can say with certainty is that while an All-Ireland title has eluded them for twenty-five years, the minors who have represented this county have not lost for want of heart.

Rossies right to savour their win
HE has seen more bad times than good with Roscommon. But he has never given up hope. He watched wistfully as other counties’ hopes were fulfilled while his tumbled down the league divisions one by one  . . . into the depths of apathy and despair.
When hope was hard to find Donie Duignan’s never faltered. And his optimism was rewarded on Sunday when his beloved Roscommon crashed through the barrier of the underdog into the spotlight with their one point win over Sligo.
For most people it was an unexpected Connacht final win, the first for the Rossies in nine years. For Donie Duignan’s unshakeable belief it was a massive lift. Was it any wonder that in the company of his daughter Denise his grin on Sunday evening was as wide as the river Suck? A well deserved win, Donie.

Just a thought …
TJ Kilgallon, who happily has recovered from illness, looked like a man ready to mix it with the best. While Anthony Finnerty’s curls might have greyed a little he has lost none of his wit. Both were on the 1985 Mayo side honoured by the Connacht Council on Sunday.

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