Where now for Mayo football?

Joint Mayo managers Pat Holmes, left, and Noel Connelly. Picture: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

Joint Mayo managers Pat Holmes, left, and Noel Connelly. Picture: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

Breaking something is easy. Fixing it requires much more skill and patience, and coming up with a better plan is not always as easy as saying the current one is flawed and not working.

That is what Mayo football and those who run it in the county must do now in the coming months. They must come up with a new plan for the next few years that will be superior to the one that has gotten them to be considered one of the top four teams in the country.

There can be no argument that they have been the only team in Connacht to shake a leg for the past five years or more. Their record of playing in seven All-Ireland semi-finals and two finals in the past five years is hugely impressive.

However, having not closed out the deal and won a final, and the manner of their semi-final defeats in 2014 and 2015, has left some people wondering if this current squad is capable of doing so.

To be honest, I was bemused to hear the news that the Mayo senior football panel had taken a vote of no-confidence in Noel Connelly and Pat Holmes. My first reaction was that such unrest with Mayo football and with this experienced and talented group will be a benefit to Roscommon and Galway for the 2016 Connacht championship. Maybe one of these counties might now challenge for provincial honours if all is not rosy and happy in the Mayo camp next May and June.

The players obviously feel very strongly on the matter if they were prepared to go to such lengths to try and have Noel and Pat removed from their position as joint managers. However, the way things have been handled is very disappointing and to be front page news on all the sports sections in the country is not good for either party.

Trust has been irrevocably broken

It is hard to see how the two lads can stay in situ now, or even if they would want to. A good friend of mine found out his long-term partner had been playing away from home a few years ago and while they tried to make it work for a few years after the infidelity, they eventually broke up.

He told me the fundamental problem was that once the trust was gone from their relationship, it could never be rekindled. And that is the issue facing the Mayo players and the current management team now, the trust has been broken.

How can they get that back? Even if they do limp on together for a while – it is impossible to see them being truly happy or productive. And the thought of them winning a Sam Maguire as a collective unit is well and truly gone.

The players have an absolute right to voice their disapproval and disappointment if they feel that things were not as they should have been all season in the new regime. However, do all the players feel the same?

Was the current agenda driven by four or five key players with big influence in the group, who still hark back for James Horan and his precision management approach and want him or his ilk back?

The bottom line is that the lack of an All-Ireland title over the past five years is down to the players in the main. A good manager will not win an All-Ireland for you, however a bad one will probably stop you winning one.

It would be naïve of the current Mayo squad to believe that the reason that they did not win the 2015 All-Ireland was because of deficiencies with Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly.

If that was true, why did they not win one under James Horan? The players have made their move. They must now know what they want next. Unless they can answer that question with total clarity and conviction they will appear rash and foolish in what they have done.



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