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Examining the process of finding a manager


IF THE BIB FITS Nominations for the Mayo senior manager position will close tomorrow (Wednesday) at 1pm. Pic: Sportsfile

The appointment of the new Mayo senior manager will move a step closer this week

Mike Finnerty

ANYONE who is interested in becoming the next Mayo senior football manager must sign their name to a letter of nomination and deliver it to the County Board Secretary before 1pm tomorrow (Wednesday).
That is pretty much all we know for certain right now about the contest to succeed Stephen Rochford.
Sure, there is plenty of rumour and speculation about what may (or may not) have been going on in the background over the last few weeks and days, but the list of unanswered questions grows longer by the day.
Here are a few that spring to mind:
How exactly did we arrive at a situation where asking Mayo GAA clubs to nominate candidates for the position was seen as the best way to find the best person for the job? Especially after some of the managerial appointment and departure sagas in the county over the last few years.
Would it not have been better to take a different approach this time? Or even examine the possibility of going a different route?
How much discussion and debate was had among the five-man committee tasked with identifying the best process before they decided to go down the ‘nomination’ route once again?
Did they agree a criteria that interested parties must meet to be even considered to manage Mayo’s flagship football team?
The role involves handling a budget of approximately €1m and overseeing between 40 and 60 people, depending on the size of the playing squad and backroom team. It is a role that has grown in size dramatically over the last ten years.
How vigorously were all the various alternatives to the old ‘throw it out to the clubs’ option examined?
Will the five-man committee approach any other candidates who have not put their names forward for the post before the Wednesday deadline?
How much discussion was had at last Wednesday night’s Executive committee meeting about the Mayo senior manager appointment process?
Were all the minute details of such an important appointment teased out and analysed?
There are so many questions.
It’s worth casting our minds back to Wednesday, August 29 — some 48 hours after Stephen Rochford issued a statement announcing his resignation.
That evening the 21 members of the Mayo GAA Executive met at MacHale Park to discuss what had happened, and to start planning for the future.
After the meeting, a tweet was sent from the official Mayo GAA account.
“Following an executive meeting of Mayo GAA tonight a committee has now been put together to put a process in place to appoint a new manager for the senior football team” it read.
It later transpired that the committee was comprised of five people — Mike Connelly (Chairman), Seamus Tuohy (Vice-Chairman), Dermot Butler (Secretary), Kevin O’Toole (Treasurer) and Paul Cunnane (PRO).
They were the group, or sub-committee, tasked with putting ‘a process in place’ to find the best man to manage the Mayo senior football team.
In the offices of The Mayo News we wondered would this committee decide to assemble a group of suitably qualified people with successful backgrounds and expertise in areas like GAA management, business, human resources and/or high performance sport to head-hunt the best candidates.

BECAUSE of those debacles of the recent past, we mused if the recruitment process would involve perhaps the likes of Connacht Rugby CEO Willie Ruane (a member of Knockmore GAA club) or maybe Meath’s four-time All-Ireland winning manager, Seán Boylan, whose son, Ciaran, plays with Achill and the Mayo Juniors.
What about asking the former Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, a former Islandeady footballer and a man with keen interest in the GAA, to come on board in some capacity?
Or perhaps draw on the GAA and business expertise of people like former Mayo All Star Kevin O’Neill, who has built up an impressive reputation in the world of finance and investment in America.
Or involve someone like former Mayo captain, David Heaney, who played senior inter-county football for 12 years and lined out in three All-Ireland Finals.
Or maybe one of the plethora of CEOs or Managing Directors with strong Mayo roots working across the county or country, many of whom with backgrounds in the GAA.
After all, considering the recent history of Mayo senior manager appointments and departures — and all the drama, heartache, controversy and headlines many of them have generated — it seems like bringing in some outside expertise makes a lot of sense.
That way a shortlist of interested, suitably-qualified candidates could be compiled, spoken to, their credentials and plans examined in detail, and one/some of them recommended to the Mayo GAA officers.
Maybe a stand-out candidate would emerge, maybe there would be a few people to consider.
Either way, a group of people with proven track records in their respective areas would whittle down the list of candidates.
But that hasn’t happened, and instead we will discover later this week which people have decided to throw their hat in the ring.
Which begs another question: will everybody interested in managing the Mayo senior football team allow their name to go forward on a nomination form this week?
Are there some people out there that would be more likely to consider the role if they were ‘sounded out’ officially by a member of a selection committee?
Maybe everything will work out brilliantly in the end, both for the new Mayo manager and for those who ratify his appointment.
This is a huge job for anybody to take on, and we can only imagine the amount of courage, self-belief and faith in one’s ability a person would need to even allow their name to go forward for an interview to become the next Mayo senior manager.
But it’s hard not to feel that this was another opportunity lost for Mayo GAA officials to learn from the mistakes of the very recent past and apply ‘best practice’ guidelines to their recruitment processes.
Of course, as far as we can ascertain, the high-ranking officers who make up the five-person committee reserve the right to approach individuals who have not put their names forward through the nomination process.
So there could yet be another twist in the tale.
We await developments with interest.

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