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Pat Holmes’s advice for the new Mayo manager

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Holmes in an ideal position to advise


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Mike Finnerty


“I WAS delighted to see a Mayo man, who is doing it for the right reasons, get the job.” This was the reaction of former Mayo senior manager Pat Holmes last week as he discussed the appointment of James Horan to the most high-profile job in the county.
“James is the man who’s played at the top level and performed, when it mattered, and winning two All Stars will mean that he will have the respect of all the players in the Mayo dressing-room,” added Holmes.
“He has experience of club management but, obviously, none with a county team. Coming from somebody who was in a similar position, in that I was playing for Mayo in August 1999, and was manager a month later, I know what that is like.
“I went in full of exuberance and full of energy to do the job but, in hindsight, I shouldn’t have taken it on. If I was back there again, I wouldn’t do it, not without getting some experience first.
“But James has been involved with Ballintubber for the last few years, studies the game very closely, and I think has the ability to overcome any lack of experience. People will have to be patient but I think there will be progress.”
Pat Holmes was in charge of the Mayo senior footballers for three years, winning a National League title in 2001. He is well-placed to offer some pertinent advice to his former team-mate.
“It’s not rocket science but you have to have a system of play that everybody understands. If you look at the teams that have won All-Irelands in the last few years, they have relatively simple game-plans. Ones that everybody understands and can adapt to.
“Also, it really is a 30 man game now so you have to have a fresh, committed panel. You can’t have players in comfort zones and the bottom end of the panel, especially, has to be kept keen and ready. Everyone has to be working hard and there can be no slacking.
“We’re also at a pretty low ebb after being beaten by Longford and the only way is up. James and his management team need to instill some passion and some confidence into the next Mayo squad.”
The new Mayo manager has already outlined his plans to hold county-wide trials in the coming months in an effort to find some fresh talent. Pat Holmes has a hunch about what kind of players he’ll be hoping to find.
“I think we’ve got some fine talent in the county. What we need are fellas with a bit of bulk and intensity around the middle third of the field. They don’t have to be the most skilful lads in the world but we need them to complement the skilful guys. It’s about getting that mixture right.”
Along with Noel Connelly and Micheál Collins, Holmes also managed Mayo to the All-Ireland U-21 title win against Cork four years ago. Ergo, he has a unique insight into the relationship between the senior boss and his U-21 counterpart.
“I was delighted to see that James said he will be working closely with the U-21 management over the next three years,” offered the Moygownagh native.
“The reality is that you can’t serve two masters. You can’t expect lads to play a National League match on a Saturday night or a Sunday and turn around a few days later to play U-21 championship.
“The U-21 players need to be given the best possible chance to succeed at that level and older guys should be given an opportunity to play National League matches. In a county of our size, surely it should be possible to have enough players to make that happen.”

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