COACH Oisín McConville
AFTER weeks of speculation, Ray Dempsey has confirmed his proposed backroom team as the race to be the next Mayo senior manager enters the final phase — with all four candidates for the position expected to be interviewed next weekend.
The Knockmore man submitted his application to the Mayo GAA management appointment committee last week and confirmed the make-up of his backroom group when contacted by The Mayo News yesterday (Monday).
If Dempsey is successful in his attempt to be named Mayo manager his core management group will be made up of former Armagh All-Ireland winning forward Oisin McConville, former All-Ireland winning Mayo minor manager Enda Gilvarry, former All-Ireland winning Kerry goalkeeper Declan O’Keeffe, four-time All Star winner Keith Higgins, and Ardnaree native James Burke who worked as a selector-coach under James Horan in the Mayo set-up for the past four seasons.
The Mayo News understands that Knockmore native Kevin O’Neill will not be part of the core management group, but the former All Star forward will be on hand to assist Dempsey in a specialised coaching role if required.
“I’m not going to comment publicly on the situation other than to say that I’ve submitted my application and now there’s a process to be gone through,” Ray Dempsey told The Mayo News. “I’ve submitted a core management team of great experience who are immersed in modern football.”
The four candidates for the position — Dempsey, Kevin McStay, Declan Shaw and Mike Solan — are set to be interviewed by a five-person selection committee next weekend.
Ray Dempsey was on the sideline last Sunday afternoon when his Knockmore team defeated Ballina Stephenites to qualify for the Mayo Senior League Division 1 final.
He will be hoping to guide his team to a third county championship in a row later in the season, but one of the teams standing in his way will be guided by one of his prospective backroom members Enda Gilvarry. The current Ballintubber manager guided Mayo to the All-Ireland minor title in 2013 and has also managed Ballina Stephenites in recent years.
Oisin McConville has seven All-Ireland medals to his name, six club titles with Crossmaglen Rangers and, most famously, the holy grail of Sam Maguire that he won with Armagh in 2002 when he scored a vital second-half goal.
In recent years the well-known GAA pundit has been coaching the Inniskeen Grattans club team in Monaghan and the Dundalk Institute of Technology senior footballers. He also led Crossmaglen Rangers to an Ulster club title in 2015.
Declan O’Keeffe lined out between the sticks for Kerry between 1996 and 2003, winning All-Ireland medals in 1997 and 2000. In recent years he has built a strong reputation as a goalkeeping coach, working with both the Roscommon (under then-manager Kevin McStay) and Clare senior football squads.
Meanwhile, James Burke has been coaching the Mayo senior team since James Horan returned to the role in 2018. He is a teacher based in Dublin and played with Ballymun Kickhams for more than a decade.