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Mick O’Dwyer is not the answer for Mayo

Sean Rice
Sean Rice

O’Dwyer is not the answer

Sean Rice

THE uncanny prediction in the pages of The Mayo News last week was spot on.
The celebrity syndrome has once more surfaced as Mayo GAA officials get down to selecting someone to guide the fortunes of Mayo football for the next few years.
Mick O’Dwyer it seems is the main target of a certain section of the county executive. And the fact that his name has been ringing out on national radio as a hot contender for the position would seem to indicate that the Kerryman is the choice of the majority.
Some members of the board have already been in touch with O’Dwyer. He admitted as much on radio, adding that one of his concerns was the long journey from Waterville to Castlebar three or four times a week for training purposes.
It is not certain who approached the Kerryman or with whose authority. But it was scarcely a vote of confidence in the contenders officially before the board for consideration.
O’Dwyer was not nominated. And the image of the board was not enhanced, nor the interest of football well served, in virtually dismissing the applications of those already nominated before approaching Mick O’Dwyer. Men who, rightly or wrongly, believe in their own ability to lead Mayo into a new era deserve better.
And what of the costs involved? If Joe Kernan’s one-year reign stung Galway for the best part of €200,000  – and may cost the chairman his post after only one year in office  – what effect will O’Dwyer’s appointment have on the coffers of Mayo GAA Board already struggling to meet the €10m repayments for renovations to McHale Park?
It stretches the imagination to believe that O’Dwyer is the panacea for the football problems facing Mayo. He draws national attention because of his genuine success as manager of Kerry . . . a long time ago.
Outside the county his achievements are less illustrious. Kildare, whom he guided to an All-Ireland final in 1998, is his biggest boast. Laois and Wicklow exemplify only his ordinariness as a coach.
He has been a success with Kerry. But at 75 years of age the Kerryman, as manager, is now a well-dipped tea bag. And those who expect him to lead Mayo to an All-Ireland title – for that is sum of the county’s expectations – are living a Walter Mitty daydream.
Liam O’Neill, one of the most respected coaches to lead Mayo — and who has no interest in returning to the post — had this to say of Mick O’Dwyer:
“I know one thing, he will raise a lot of money as he did in Wicklow with golf classics etc. But he is old news and has not moved up with the times. That’s why he failed at Kildare, Laois and Wicklow. His method of running around 30 laps of the field is not the new way to get lads fit.”
The Kerryman may yet see the folly of trying to cope with a fastidious football county 200 miles away. His mulling over the prospect may be no more than a stalling tactic while Limerick, a comparatively short distance away, consider their vacant post.
One would have expected that before turning their thoughts to an outsider, however, the Mayo board would have combed this county first for an aspiring coach.
If they are not satisfied with the quality of the names before them, there are others well qualified to take the reins if a method of approach similar to that of O’Dwyer – who was not nominated by a club — was adopted.
Maybe, if he were requested, Noel Connelly, who together with Pat Holmes and Micheal Collins were such an inspiring U-21 management, would show some interest – although circumstances might not allow a self-employed man with a young family the time to undertake such an onerous job. But he ought to be asked.
And where does Peter Ford figure in the discussions? Has anyone considered his successful stint as manager of Sligo? While Kevin Walsh basks in the plaudits of Sligo’s rise to eminence, Ford guided the Yeats County to an even higher plane, with a victory over Tyrone and forcing the eventual All-Ireland winners Armagh to a quarter-final replay.
The Castlebar Mitchels manager has also had a stint with Galway, and steered their U-21 side to an All-Ireland title. I don’t know what interest, if any, he holds for the Mayo job. But Ford is one of our own . . . and eminently suited to take charge of Mayo football. Is he not worth a subtle sound out?

Four more bite dust in club championship title race
THE defeat of Charlestown by Shrule/Glencorrib in the Mayo SFC quarter-final is the first real shock of the Mayo senior championship.
Having finished the first half on level terms after conceding two soft goals while playing with the help of the strong wind, not even their most ardent supporter could have hoped for a southern victory.
But the manner in which they stormed back revealed a steel to the Shrule men that will seriously test any of the remaining three in the semi-finals.
The Mortimer brothers, Conor and Trevor, and full-forward Brian Murphy, were in the vanguard of the charge that dismantled Charlestown’s dream.
But an essential part of their win also was the return for the second half of the injured James Lohan who gave an inspirational performance at midfield.
Charlestown, who I think peaked too soon in the season, were among the favourites for the title, but they could find no way out of the whirlpool that engulfed them.

MEANWHILE, those who had Castlebar Mitchels in their sights for the title may review their opinion following the Mitchels’ unimpressive two-point win over Breaffy.
But the county town men can be content in the belief that they will meet no tougher a side in the semi-final than the challenge presented by their neighbouring rivals.
Lack of motivation is never a problem when opponents from the same parish clash. And pride was foremost in the minds of the thirty men who did battle on Sunday. Nobody stood on ceremony. Every ball was seized upon with almost frenzied zeal.
It took Castlebar almost ten minutes, with the help of the strong wind, to get their first point . . . a ‘45’ by Richie Feeney. And although Breaffy failed to score in the first half, Castlebar’s meagre seven points looked a shaky lead with which to face the wind.
The second half was some battle. And the accuracy of Breaffy’s Matthew Conroy was more than any single Mitchels’ man could accomplish when they had the wind. He tagged on five points many of them from long range.
Most of the Mitchels attacks had their origins in a defence in which the Feeney brothers, Alan and Richie, Donal Newcombe and Pat Kelly were excellent. Tom Cunniffe is returning to his old form. And although they lost most of the midfield breaks, Shane Fitzmaurice’s fielding was a feature of the game.
In a smart move Breaffy switched Aidan O’Shea to full-forward late in the second half where he caused piles of trouble. Mostly through his influence, Breaffy got the lead down to a single point, but despite his best efforts and those of his brother Seamus, the outstanding Kevin Scahill and Barry Jordan, Castlebar’s nerve held out.
Following their impressive defeat of Crossmolina, Knockmore are clear favourites now to take the title, but Ballintubber will be a match for any of the three remaining sides. Shrule is proof that it still anyone’s title.

Just a thought …
Maybe Kildare would have won, maybe not, but to allow an illegal goal decide a game as important as an All-Ireland semi-final is an injustice that is taken too lightly by the GAA.

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