THE SIDELINE VIEW New Mayo manager Kevin McStay was appointed on a four-year term last night (Monday). Pic: Sportsfile
AFTER eight long, uncertain weeks Mayo have finally found a new manager.
Kevin McStay was ratified for a four-year term last night by a full meeting of the Mayo GAA County Board to take over from James Horan.
It brings the curtain down on two months of drama, speculation, sniping and whispers.
Four strong candidates put their names forward and that, combined with the star-studded backroom teams they each assembled, showed how much desire is out there for this gig.
It was also a vote of confidence in the process put in place. In recent weeks we’ve written how such a process has been needed because of the many farcical moments which have attended Mayo appointing or removing a manager over the past three decades.
We’d also argue that the process also lent itself to significant competition.
We don’t think a head-hunting process would have led to such a strong management team getting over the line or being put forward.
For instance, after Kevin McStay’s backroom team was announced, followed by Mike Solan’s and Declan Shaw’s, did Ray Dempsey feel the need to expand his search further?
Given the timing of his announcement seven days ago, it would appear so.
It became an arm’s race of sorts in the days and weeks after Kevin McStay’s backroom set-up became known. This was healthy.
It was great to see the wide range of top level people willing to get involved.
Of course one downside is that people pitched themselves to particular candidates, pushing their case.
Online polls have to be treated with a certain health warning, but it was clear in the past week that Kevin McStay and Ray Dempsey’s tickets were receiving the most support.
Therefore, it was always inevitable that there would be considerable disappointment among the many people who picked the man who lost out.
Some very good football people I know have argued strongly for both in recent weeks.
As have plenty of less informed people, one might add.
And it is very easy to construct an argument for either ticket.
Here in The Mayo News we endeavoured to be neutral in our reporting over the last six weeks to be fair to the four candidates. Also, given how toxic many Mayo GAA discussions have become, we didn’t think throwing our tuppence into the mix would be in any way helpful.
The candidates all deserved to be treated fairly and so we approached it like we would an election.
But, of course, we all have our own personal views on who we think would be best.
I can only speak for myself and say that I felt the McStay ticket had the edge for experience, cohesion and coaching nous.
But there was a lot to be excited about in the Ray Dempsey ticket, as well as those of Mike Solan and Declan Shaw.
We’ve often been worried about not having enough high-level people to get involved with various Mayo teams. The last few weeks have been a welcome balm to that notion.
One of the downsides of recent weeks is that some of the commentary on social media — and in some sections of the local media — underscored how divided a county we’ve become.
That’s perhaps an inevitable consequence of the hurt and hunger of so many All-Ireland defeats and such a long wait for Sam. The long shadow of the most recent All-Ireland final loss to Tyrone lingers too.
So asking everyone to rally behind the successful applicant is easier said than done. And perhaps it is very easy for this writer to say given my stated preference.
However, unless there is a sense that the process was not a rigorous, fair and transparent one, then we have to give the successful candidate our backing.
Yes, the appointment process definitely went on too long, and communication from the board at various stages was poor but, fundamentally, it was a correct procedure.
Not before time, and hopefully it can be the best way forward from now on too.
Ultimately, of course, no successful candidate will be judged on getting the job.
There is only one way replacing James Horan will be seen as a success and that is to lead Mayo to the promised land.
So any support has to be qualified but for now, before a single ball is even kicked, they merit support from the county at large.
How long that lasts will depend on performances and results, just like it always has.