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Mayo GAA clubs in need of leadership

Sean Rice
Sean Rice

Clubs in need of leadership

Sean Rice

THE news that Mick O’Dwyer has dropped out of the race, is one less headache for those stewing over the credentials of the contenders for the Mayo management job.
The appointment of the Kerryman was never a realistic option given the costs involved. Nor, despite his wide experience, would O’Dwyer, approaching 75 years of age, have the energy for the travel entailed in executing the job to his own high standards.
Already a sub-committee have been in touch with several of the remaining nominees. The only other ‘outsider’ in the race is Castlebar born Tommy Lyons, who was in charge of Dublin for a couple of years.
Reports that the nominees were being asked to submit their plans in writing on how they would handle the job if appointed did not materialise.
In any case, one could not picture Micko sitting down to enumerate the qualities he would draw upon to re-invigorate Mayo football. An irresistible urge welling up in the Kerryman to say: “Lads, the record is there; take it or leave it,” would be his likely response.
No clear consensus for any one of the nominees could be gauged from the outcome of last week’s Mayo GAA Board meeting or from the events of the weekend. John Maughan and James Horan appear to be the front runners. But no outsider has been excluded.
Meanwhile, if the response by clubs to the request from Mayo GAA Board is a measure of the appetite in the county for a serious review of Mayo football, there is no great hunger for new structures.
Statistics from a meeting of the board held last week indicate that eleven clubs had not come together to discuss the state of the game. A further nine were not even represented at the board meeting while four had held meetings but had no proposals to put forward.
If that is the outlook of some forty percent of clubs in the county it represents a stolid indifference to the future of the game at inter-county level. You can only infer from those figures that the clubs are not interested in tackling the problems that have anchored our county to underachievement for close on six decades.
It strongly suggests that leadership for any substantial review will have to come from the board itself, or the executive. Indifferent clubs want no part in it, preferring to retreat into the common grove of apathy.
Maybe with the pressing needs of their clubs they have enough on their hands, and not the time to deal with the problems of the county at large. Perhaps, but without fundamental change in moulding young talent Mayo football will never rise above the mediocre.
A lot of hope will be placed in whoever is appointed in the next few weeks to lead Mayo football into this new decade . . . as has been the case with every new appointment. But without new structures it is only a temporary fix. No conclusion brighter than anything we have experienced in recent years is likely.
While the opinions of those delegates at the meeting were sincere contributions, there seemed to be no unifying thread to the debate, no common agreement on the underlying problems that have beset Mayo football . . . or how to tackle them.
It is patently clear that until a development programme is put before the delegates no progress will be made. A programme must be drawn up – or reinvented from a similar exercise undertaken by interested volunteers five years ago — and laid before them.  Clubs alone will not chart a coherent policy.
A ray of light emanated from a statement by chairman James Waldron that Liam Horan had been asked to chair a Strategic Review Committee on Mayo football.
It’s a move in the right direction. Horan is well qualified to head a task of that nature and, all going well, he will begin work on an action plan in the coming weeks.
But no obstacles should be put in his way, no constraints imposed on his work. Most importantly, assurances that whatever plan emerges would be implemented by the board should accompany his appointment.
That Strategic Review Committee should not be confused with the Strategic Plan which is already being compiled by the board about the GAA in general.
It’s a review requested by Croke Park from ever county in the country covering every sphere of the association’s influence. Clubs in Mayo are contributing to the plan, but according to secretary Sean Feeney four drafts have already been drawn up, and it may take a few more before the plan hits headquarters.

Carey sums up Kiltane’s spirit

THE men of Kiltane will want no sympathy following their heavy defeat by Castlebar Mitchels in the league on Saturday. But so long as they continue to produce players with the spirit of Sean Carey, long will the club continue to strive for top honours.
Fifteen years after helping the club to a county senior final, Carey is still a central figure in their plans. On Saturday evening he was as always the player to watch, the one forward Castlebar feared most.
The highlight of his club career perhaps was reaching the county final in 1995. They lost by four points to Crossmolina at Ballina. Carey was 18 years of age and had already represented Mayo at minor championship level.
That same year the club was nominated to represent Mayo in the Connacht championship, and Carey played a prominent part in forcing Corofin to a replay, which they lost.
Ever since, he has been the heart of Kiltane performances, the one every opposing manager specifically plans for.
On Saturday’s display, Kiltane would seem to have slipped down the rankings. They were short a few regulars, and their interest in the championship has ceased.
But Carey played as he always does, giving everything he has. Age may have begun to slow him slightly, but his craft and guile have not diminished, and in the absence of equivalent talent Kiltane must be hoping that the Bangor man, at 33 years of age, will continue to be their inspiration for some years yet to come.

Fallon joins the race for Galway job
A MAYO MAN is among the nominees for the position of Galway football manager. Pat Fallon, a member of John Maughan’s squad in the mid 90s, is one of five officially nominated for the post.
The Balla native has come under the spotlight after guiding Bearna to their first ever Galway senior semi-final where they were beaten by only two points by Corofin on Sunday.
But his chances of becoming the third Mayo man to take up the reins in Galway, weakened somewhat with the surprise entry of Cork’s Billy Morgan into the ring.
According to the national papers Morgan was so heavily backed to become the new manager that betting had to be suspended.

Just a thought …
THE €10 admission charged for the quarter-finals of the senior championship at McHale Park recently represented good value and attracted big audiences. A good enough reason to have a similar charge for the semi-finals and final.

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