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Process begins again to select new Mayo manager

Sean Rice

 Sean Rice

Process must begin once again

IT is our ardent wish that sports minister Michael Ring will have refused to meet with whatever reported delegation is to complain to him about the incompetence of referee Cormac Reilly; or, if having already met them, he will have had the good sense to advise them that they are pursuing a chimera.
There is nothing to be gained from prolonging the agony of what might have been. The match has been decided. It is over and done with. The outcome will not be changed.
The authorities will stand over the failures of the referee, as they did when Meath beat Louth in the 2010 Leinster final with a goal that was an outrageous breach of the rules.
So let’s contain our protests. Let’s stop sulking. Reasoned thinking is not possible when resentment rules. And there is need for reasoned debate in the coming weeks as the Mayo GAA Board contemplates a successor to James Horan.
So far as we can gauge, everyone who has had a stint in management from juvenile to senior club football within the county is being touted as the right man to take up where James Horan has left off.
It is in situations like this you get to realise the extent of the vanity that managerial vacancies in football tend to arouse. But only the very few are sought after, those assuredly qualified to lead, who have the innate ability to get inside the heads of their charges and take them to heights of unimaginable achievement.
Although he led Ballintubber to their first county senior title, the appointment of James Horan to the county slot four years ago was accompanied by more hope than conviction.
After four Connacht titles and two All-Ireland finals, however, the Ballintubber man had succeeded in chasing away the gloom from our hearts. And in the cold light of reality, his monumental achievements may now scare away even the most qualified of would-be successors.
You see, it’s by Horan’s standard the new man will be judged. Every twist and turn he takes, ever change he makes, every result will draw comparison with his predecessor. It is a formidable challenge. Only the most assertive and talented can hope to emulate, let alone surpass, what Horan has achieved.
Maybe that’s why Kevin McStay has begun to re-consider his options in seeking the post. It’s a heavy responsibility; time-consuming, mentally draining, thankless. McStay is high profile and undoubtedly has the credentials to succeed.
Could be, though, that the Mayo-born pundit has his eye on the less onerous managerial post in Roscommon, where he lives, when John Evans decides to step down.
Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly (if interested) are a proven, successful duo that steered the county to National League success in 2001 and to an All-Ireland U-21 title eight years ago. The astute Holmes also guided Castlebar Mitchels to the All-Ireland club final last season.
Others who might fancy their chances are former manager John Maughan, former Galway boss Peter Ford, successful minor manager Enda Gilvarry, and Mayo native Tommy Lyons who led Dublin a few years ago and has a business in Louisburgh.
They are the obvious front-runners with McStay the preferred choice of most Mayo people.
The decision now rests with the County Board and they must choose carefully, and expeditiously, otherwise the momentum may stall, and the credibility of Mayo football may begin to recede.
The new man has to move fast. There are decisions to be made, plans to be drawn up, new relationships to be built, and a back-room team to be appointed. In short, there is a lot of bedding in to be done – all in time for the new season, which begins in January, just over three months from now.
Let’s hope for an inspired choice.

GAA shouldn’t fear technology says Australian reader
A FEW innovations by the GAA would clear up much of the controversies surrounding Gaelic football according to my old friend, Australia-based Dr Tom Brett, a native of Charlestown, who writes:
“Another sad day for Mayo football but no chokers tag this time. Agree that referee was pathetic and should be sanctioned accordingly by his peers and GAA. Don’t just send him to another parish (match) like another Irish institution did in the past.
“The deliberate targeting of Cillian O’Connor early on demanded a good ref, but no subsequent yellow card followed when there was a clear penalty in a goalscoring position. The ref took the coward’s route subsequently and avoided enforcing the rules of the game. He progressively lost control and respect.
“No wonder referees have so little respect in GAA. Kerry exploited his inaction to the maximum and consistently dragged down Mayo players who were making progress down the middle. He rarely gave Mayo a free in contrast to the succession of cheap frees to Kerry.
“I have never had much faith in the black card and [the game in Limerick] reinforced my view. The GAA can learn from other sports and the yellow card has been spectacularly successful in rugby union, where the standard of refereeing is generally regarded as the best of all the major sports. I learned that lesson many years ago –­ you never talk back to the referee in rugby or you concede a penalty or get marched ten metres. Hopefully they will abandon the black card and use the ten-minute sin-bin yellow card system.  That will generate respect very quickly.
“The use of a countdown clock with time off for deliberate time-wasting or players lying down for a rest as they tire or try to wind down the clock is imperative. James O’Donoghue took over two minutes out and Marc Ó Sé almost a minute in the period after 65 minutes of regular time.  Yet the ref only allowed three minutes added time.  The countdown clock would eliminate deliberate time-wasting.
“The use of a video referee in rugby has also been very effective and should be available if the referee is unsighted or something happens off the ball. Both of the Kerry penalties would have been vetoed on the video evidence.
“The quality referee will always want the best evidence and the move would be welcomed by players and supporters alike.  I don’t accept that the GAA is only an amateur sport or that it cannot afford the technology. They should lead the way with innovative methods, including borrowing the best ideas from other sports.
“Finally, having two ‘old fellas’ at either goal acting as umpires should be abandoned in favour of trained younger umpires – one at each goal is plenty provided their vision is good! The use of a second on-field referee would be a far better innovation and a net gain/save in manpower!
“Overall, Horan has brought them on a lot and his successor will get them over the line... soon!”