FLASHBACK Then-Roscommon manager Kevin McStay is pictured with Mayo’s Lee Keegan after the 2017 All-Ireland SFC quarter-final drawn match between the counties at Croke Park. Pic: Sportsfile
NEW Mayo senior manager Kevin McStay has called on the more experienced members of last year’s county squad to not ‘make any rash decisions’ about their futures.
McStay and his management team, who have been scouting at Mayo club championship games recently, will be out and about at third round games again next weekend.
In the wake of Mayo’s exit from last season’s championship in June, there was speculation about the futures of the likes of Lee Keegan and Kevin McLoughlin, in particular.
However, McStay confirmed last week that none of last year’s Mayo squad had contacted him to make themselves unavailable for next year after he had written to each member of the 2022 panel following his appointment.
“My firm hope/belief is that they will all stay around and discuss these things with us,” he said. “My personal message to everybody out there would be, ‘Have really good club championships, get stuck into them, make sure you’re catching our eye on a regular basis, don’t make any rash decisions’.”
During one of a number of media interviews last week, McStay went on to discuss the issue of next year’s new championship format and how the condensed season overall will impact on Mayo’s preparations.
“None of us have ever lived through the season that’s ahead of us, it’s a paradigm shift,” he said. “What we’ve been doing in our planning is trying to get it into four blocks; the pre-season/provincial league; the National League; the Connacht championship; the All-Ireland series. It’s a season of 20 games if you’re to get to the third Sunday in July.
“A big panel is required, a big panel where the changes are pretty much seamless, so it’s a bench you require. Everybody in the panel has to be contributing.
“We’ve kind of sensed you won’t win the Connacht championship (‘which is a huge priority for us’) in your pre-season, but you could lose it. So pre-season is crucial now because once the ball is thrown in at the end of January, it’s game on game on game.
“It’s 20 matches in 28 weeks or something like that, and now you see why a pre-season is so important.”
Meanwhile, on the subject of training facilities for Mayo during the winter months, in particular, the new manager said he was ‘very hopeful of solving that issue, once and for all, in the next couple of weeks’.
“I’ve had very detailed talks with the chairman. We’ve a few proposals in line, good proposals, strong proposals, to fix this issue. I’m not in a position to say what deal has been done yet but we’re very hopeful of solving that issue, once and for all, in the next couple of weeks.
“Whether it’s around a host club, as we had when I was in charge of Roscommon, St Brigid’s ‘hosted us’ and we had an understanding with them and the Board.
“That may happen with a club in Mayo, we might have to tease it out at Connacht [GAA] level, the Centre of Excellence, Mayo had use of that at times under James [Horan], and so on. .
“But let me put it this way, we will come to a very satisfactory solution for the current senior team, I have no doubt about that.”