GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY Maurice Sheridan was appointed as the new Mayo Under-20 manager last week. Pic: Sportsfile
TAKING on the role of Mayo Under-20 football manager is a ‘golden opportunity’, according to Maurice Sheridan.
The former Mayo footballer was ratified for the position on a three-year term at a virtual County Board meeting last Thursday night after being recommended by a five-person selection committee.
Sheridan (47) beat off competition for the role from last year’s Mayo minor manager, Tomás Morley, after both were interviewed last Wednesday evening.
“The aspiration is always there to be involved with the county,” the Balla native told The Mayo News last night (Monday). “It’s a golden opportunity really and I think Mayo football is at a vital stage in the development of their players.
“In regards to myself, I’m not involved with managing NUI, Galway this year with the Sigerson [Cup] being called off, I’m not involved with any club either, and there’s no involvement at the moment in regards to schools, so the timing is good for me.
“Because if an opportunity does come up, you have to grasp it. You want to coach at the highest level and the opportunity was there so I just had to go for it.”
Since retiring from playing, Sheridan has coached secondary school teams in both St Louis Kiltimagh and Claregalway College (where he currently teaches), as well as the Salthill-Knocknacarra senior footballers alongside another former Mayo star, Anthony Finnerty.
Sheridan also managed the NUI Galway senior team for the last four years, leading them to the Sigerson Cup Final in 2018.
“With my involvement with NUI Galway, it has exposed me to all of the elements of being involved with youngsters, and with the age overlap of the school too,” he explained
“When you’re working with young adults, I think it’s more about the management of them really, you have to understand the way they learn, and the personalities involved, if you want to influence them and make them grow as footballers.
“[My philosophy is] improvement and growth. You have to build the honesty in them to want to work. The willingness to learn is so, so important. I always say to myself: ‘Are they improving and if they are growing as a player’?
“It’s all about the players themselves and it’s all about their development at the end of the day,” he added.
“If we can improve these guys to be the next generation of Mayo players, that’s what it’s all about for us. And at the same time, I think if you improve them, the results will look after themselves.”
Sheridan won three Connacht senior championship titles and one National League medal during his nine seasons with the Mayo senior team, where he played alongside the likes of current Mayo senior manager, James Horan, and established himself as an exceptionally reliable free-taker.
He takes up his new post under no illusion about the task ahead of him, most notably in the form of reigning All-Ireland champions, Galway, who have ten of the side that beat Dublin in the recent final underage again this year.
“There is an excitement to the knockout championship [which is due to begin on the first weekend in April],” said Sheridan.
“The reality is that there is no under-20 league like there has been in the past and, after speaking to Mike Solan [former Mayo Under-20 manager] he talked about the value of having it.
“So there’s no league, no challenge games, no trials at the moment, so it’s all going to be a big challenge. And the facts are that Galway are the All-Ireland champions and have ten of the starting team again this year, Sligo were just in the Connacht Minor Final, and Roscommon won it, so we have a lot of ground to make up.
“But it’s all about the first round of championship and it’s a huge challenge that we’re looking forward to.”