Despite another sickening one-point defeat last weekend to Tyrone in round three of the qualifiers, there is not much point in Mayo changing the current management team.
What purpose would it serve?
John O’ Mahony took on the job for three years and it is impossible to see much benefit to the Mayo county board or the team’s loyal supporters of changing horses mid-race.
If O’ Mahony was the best man for the job two years ago, it is difficult to see how he is not the best man for the job now.
Admittedly the win to loss ratio is not as high as he or the Mayo public would have wanted, but to lay the blame for that exclusively at the manager’s door is simplistic, overly harsh, and unrealistic.
My own contention is that a good manager will not win an All-Ireland for a team, but a bad one can lose one for them. O’ Mahony has the experience and self-belief after 15 years at the top of inter-county management to turn this year’s disappointing campaign around and perhaps win a provincial title in 2009, and maybe reach an All-Ireland semi-final.
After last Saturday’s defeat the Ballaghderreen man asked for patience so he and his selectors could be given more time to conclude their work-in-progress.
“I have no problem walking out the door if somebody else can come in and win an All-Ireland next year for Mayo. I’ve a fair idea I know what needs to be done, but … it’s important [for Mayo] to hold the collective nerve … Mayo will always be a force in football, possibly even in the short-term. I think the experience that was gained by some of those lads this year will be huge coming into [next] season.”
Talk of winning All-Irelands is fanciful in the extreme, but too many counties have the bad habit of axing the manager after their team has not gone as well as expected. The harsh reality in Mayo, as in the vast majority of counties, is that they do not currently have a panel of players good enough to go on and win an All-Ireland. There is no shame in that.
Since 1996 only five counties, Kerry (5 ), Meath (2 ), Galway (2 ), Tyrone (2 ), and Armagh (1 ) have been able to win the Sam Maguire. Every year the majority of counties dream at the start of the championship, but the history books show only the very few are able to live out the dream come late September.
John O’Mahony has feet of clay like the rest of us and it was unrealistic of anyone to think he was going to ride back into his native land on his white steed and wave a magic wand and all would be well in Mayo football.
That did not happen, nor was it ever going to. There is no point in selling the car you have unless you can afford to buy a better one.
Likewise in Mayo football. If O’ Mahony is pushed out of his management position, who is the next candidate? Would he be better and more committed then the man in-situ already? I doubt it.
Anyway, this weekend sees three of the All-Ireland quarter-finals taking place at Croke Park. It is difficult to see Galway stopping Kerry unless they play out of their skins and things go really well for them. The Kingdom are hot favourites and rightly so.
However Wexford could surprise a few people in their game with Armagh. Wexford are 3/1 in this tie which is good value, and while it is understandable that Armagh are such hot favourites, the purple and gold lads will give McGrane, McDonnell, the Kernans, and company a stiff test.
Big Brendan Doyle, Eric Bradley, and Paddy Colfer will battle for everything around the middle and they have some genuine scoring forwards in the likes of Matty Forde, PJ Banville, Ciarán Lyng, and Redmond Barry. If Phillip Wallace, Brian Malone, and Niall Murphy can keep tabs on Steven McDonnell and Ronan Clarke, as they did with Benny Coulter, we could have a real shock on our hands.
Finally it is impossible not to go for Cork to beat Kildare in the game on Sunday. They should be roared on by a good Rebel crowd - there to support the hurlers - and with more scoring forwards, I’d take the Munster champions to advance.