JOINT APPROACH Mayo manager Kevin McStay and selector Liam McHale are pictured at yesterday’s Mindspace Mayo challenge match in Ballina. Pic: Sportsfile
THERE will be very few days in Kevin McStay’s time as Mayo manager like yesterday.
It was a day when one of Ballina Stephenites’ All Star winners, and most famous sons, celebrated another milestone achievement in his GAA life.
McStay’s first game as Mayo manager was always going to be special for him; the fact that it happened on his home club’s famous field, James Stephens Park, will have made it all the more memorable.
The occasion was made even more enjoyable for McStay by the fact that his first Mayo selection cruised to an impressive ten points victory over Sligo in a challenge game/charity match that was so one-sided and comfortable that he hardly had cause to raise his voice.
Afterwards, the new manager admitted it had been ‘a big day’ for everyone in the McStay family.
“I’ll certainly remember my first game,” he smiled.
“By and large we got a good look at where we are after our pre-season work. We’ve another couple of weeks left in the pre-season but not much left in it. We’re satisfied where we are.”
“You wondered what he took from the exercise?
“Attitude,” he began. “You can’t do anything unless the attitude is right and I was very pleased with that. We’d a good attitude from the first ball on. It dropped a little bit when the subs were rolling in and out but the attitude was very good. The application was very good.
“The commitment to the game was very good. Skill execution is getting better. I can see that week on week and introducing lads to each other and trying to get that little bit of camaraderie into the group.
“I’m satisfied that’s going at the right pace as well, that we’re developing … I said to someone we are Mayo, but we’re trying to create a new version of Mayo. That’s what all the backroom team are about, trying to build a new version of Mayo and keep all the good things that we have, the passion for the jersey, the athleticism, the size, we’ve a lot of that. But maybe just be slightly different to the last version. That’s all we can do really.”
The conversation ended with a word on Lee Keegan.
The former Footballer of the Year has been saying for months now that he hasn’t decided yet whether he will commit to Mayo for 2023.
Kevin McStay revealed that was still the case.
“Lee has a massive decision to make for himself and his family,” he said. “The only help we can do is encourage him to make a very informed decision. We’re helping him with any issues, he knows when he can come back into the set-up.
“We want Lee, obviously and we are hopeful. I’m reading where it’s over. It’s not over, there’s nothing decided, but it will be decided soon.”
Also coming soon is the start of the National League, a rematch with Galway, and a game where the stakes will be much higher than they were yesterday.
But every journey has to start somewhere, and Kevin McStay’s is now underway.
Next stop is the Air Dome in Bekan on the weekend after next.