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Manulla’s Mossy calls it a day

Sport

HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS Mossy Lally is pictured at Manulla FC’s ground in Carramore last week. Pic: Michael McLaughlin

Legendary Manulla coach Mossy Lally has retired from management after almost four decades

Interview
Ger Flanagan

AFTER recently announcing his retirement from management after 39 years of service to his native Manulla FC, one big question remains to be answered by Mossy Lally.
Is he actually walking away?
After all, the affable ‘Mossy’ is to Manulla what sugar is to cake, what Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May were to Top Gear or what Steve Jobs was to Apple.
The show will go on without them, but it will also never be the same.
Mossy is one of the most recognisable figures in Mayo League football circles; he’s been there, worn the jersey, and done all that was to be done.
Whenever club or county came calling, Mossy was always at the end of the phone.
He tried to step away before back in 2006 but his retirement was akin to Conor McGregor’s and he returned not long after.
However, this time it’s not a bogus announcement. Mossy isn’t crying ‘wolf’.
The events of the last year have taken the fun element out of management for him and, after the Mayo League announced the cessation of the 2020 leagues recently, his recent turn with Manulla’s B team was also over.
“Who motivates the motivator?” he asked rhetorically when talking to The Mayo News last week. “Last year, I just didn’t enjoy it and it wasn’t easy.
“We were just showing up to games, togging out in the stand or in our cars, doing a bit of warm-up, a team talk, and then going home. It was no fun. People will say Covid will be gone and all that, but that kind of put the hat on it for me.
“The dressing room is a special, special place and when you take that away it’s not the same. “I’ve been lucky to have been in some very, very elated dressing rooms, and some on the flip side, and those emotions you cannot get in any walk of life, be it drink, drugs or sex!
“So I found it hard to motivate myself and when you’re the manager, you have to be more motivated than everyone in the dressing room together.”
Mossy Lally leaves as probably the most successful manager in Manulla FC’s history, taking charge of some of the best sides that Carramore has ever seen.
After being coaxed into management by Jackie Clarke and Timmy O’Malley with what was a star-studded under-12 team back in the ‘80s, it would be the start of a whirlwind journey.
He would follow that team – which contained names like Roger Clarke (current Manulla manager), Damien Ansboro, Alan Rumley, Clive Fitzgerald, Kieran McDonnell, Gerry Jennings and more – to a Quigley Cup in 1994.
They would later make up the club’s Junior team that would go unbeaten in league football for two years, win the treble in 1995, and go on to compete in the Connacht Senior League.
“I went to the World Cup in 1994 with John Dempsey for what was supposed to be ten days but we ended up staying for three or four weeks,” he laughed.
“I was never on a plane before but we clocked up some air miles and when we eventually got back – shit broke – I was asked to take over the Junior team.”
It was the first year of summer football in Mayo and the season was short, with Mossy and his management team of John ‘Pike’ Jennings and Dennis McHugh only having two weeks to assemble a team.
A cohort of the Quigley Cup winning side were drafted in to blend with the elder statesmen such as Ian Brennan, Liam Ralph, Michael Costello and Jackie Barrett. They also boasted one Gareth Golding, who hit 42 goals in one season.
“We lost the first game, drew the second game and I was thinking, ‘Right, this isn’t going too well,” he laughed. “But after that we went unbeaten for two years in the league.
“The infusion of youth with the older guys was a perfect balance. I was only 26 at the time so the likes of Ian Brennan, our captain, and them were all older than me. But they were brilliant to have in the dressing room and I didn’t have to motivate them at all.
“We ended up winning the treble in 1995. They were great days. We didn’t have the Hacienda, but we had the Welcome Inn!”
After spending a couple of seasons in the Connacht Senior League, Mossy would then guide Manulla to the revamped Super League title in 1999. But his heart yearned for the only title that would elude him – the Connacht Cup.
In 2004 they got their chance as his young stars of the ‘90s matured and new talent like Tommy Walsh, Barry Cuffe, Gary and Shane Durkan, ‘Jessie’ Jennings, ‘Magic’ Mally Byrne and more came of age.
But they fell to a 2-1 defeat to Ballinalsoe Town and it’s a result that still haunts Mossy to this day.
“I was in bits for weeks after that game and still replay it in my mind over and over again,” he said. “It’s the biggest disappointment, without a shadow of a doubt for me. I would have given anything to have won a Connacht Cup but it didn’t happen.
“After we came back down from the Connacht Senior League, I had no appetite for the Super League, all I wanted was the Connacht Cup. It was very selfish of me. I would have given up everything else to win that cup, we had beaten all the top teams, but it was just down to fate, because we just didn’t perform on the day.”
Although still disappointed, he holds no ill-will on the proceedings, even if a controversial offside goal was ultimately the decider. “We’ve scored winning goals from offside positions too,” he admitted candidly.
He also enjoyed some great days with Mayo Kennedy Cup and Mayo Under-21 squads in his years, but was never tempted away from Carramore.
His heart was blue.
“This will probably come across as arrogant, but over that period of time I was asked to manage other clubs, big clubs, and while I was always appreciative and respectful of the offer, it was never going to happen,” he said. “I could never envisage myself in the away dressing room.
“To me, it was never all about winning in that sense. It was about producing good players, good people and developing friendships.”
He’s adamant he does not foresee himself going back into management in the club.
Maybe he won’t. But we wouldn’t rule it out.

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