Chairman regrets statement said interview committee met with executive

Thursday nights meeting of the Mayo county board saw Noel Connelly and Pat Holmes ratified as the new Mayo senior management team for a three year term. The pair were given the unanimous support of the club delegates at the meeting when the proposal was put before them.

However the main interest in the meeting was how under fire, county board chairman Paddy McNicholas would deal with the the appointment process after events had unfolded earlier this week. Before the meeting proper started, the chairman addressed the delegates reading a statement where he outlined what had happened over the recent past.

McNicholas in an address that took over six minutes to read out said, “We were aware that Kevin McStay was interested in the position as he had stated on the Sunday Game that he would get a call. We decided to make that make that call to see was he interested in it and he said that he was. We arranged a meeting with him, which took place on Monday, September 8. This meeting was a preliminary meeting so we could assess common ground and we could lay out our parameters to him. At that meeting Kevin McStay requested that we wouldn't mess him around and we wouldn't leave him hanging, if he wasn't the preferred choice. We agreed that we wouldn't mess him around.

“It became clear at the meeting however there were elements of his package that we were concerned about and he was aware of our concerns. The only other nomination was that of Noel Connelly and Pat Holmes and we met them on September 19, again this was a preliminary meeting to set out parameters and to see did we have common ground. It became clear there were no real issues between us in that regard.

"Later on Friday, September 19 at an executive committee meeting an interview committee was set up comprising of the chairman, secretary, treasurer, coaching officer and PRO of the county board. Its purpose was to interview the nominated candidates. I did not notify the executive of of our concerns of Kevin McStay's package out of deference to the understanding I had with Kevin McStay. I decided I would contact him the next day to clarify matters and to see could we come to an understanding that would be acceptable to him and the county board and we could then arrange the interview. I telephoned him on Saturday morning and again told him of our concerns of an element of the package that he proposed. It was not possible to reach common ground with him in this regard. I said would not be able to recommend his candidacy as a result, he asked did the other officers of the board have the same view and I said they were. In light of his request and my commitment to not mess him around, I thought he would withdraw his nomination at that stage. Instead he said he was disappointed and there was no point in his attending for an interview if he had not got the backing of the principal officers of the county board. At this point I would like stress I had no interest or there was no agenda against Kevin McStay. I was delighted that we had interest from two great management teams, all former Mayo players, any group would have been a great addition to Mayo football. I knew however that Kevin McStay's package would not be acceptable to Mayo county board and I as chairman would be failing on my duties to the board if I did not act on that. He said would be issuing a statement later in the day, I asked him not to do so until after the Hollymount-Carramore match as Noel Connelly was involved in that match and he agreed to that. I then contacted the secretary and treasurer and brought them up to speed on what had happened during the day. I contacted the PRO and coaching officer who were the other members of the interview committee and arranged a meeting for MacHale Park, that Saturday evening. I got a call from Kevin McStay at 4.20pm to say, he'd been contacted by Newstalk and a local journalist who said they were aware he would not be attending for an interview. I told him that neither I or the secretary or treasurer had contacted any media organisation in relation to these matters.

"The interview committee met at MacHale Park at approximately 6pm, we discussed the situation and we were all concerned with the turn the events had taken. We decided to contact Kevin McStay again to see would he reconsider his position and attend for interview. We called Kevin McStay to see would he meet with us, he declined to meet. I then contacted by telephone all available members of the executive and I told them that Kevin McStay would not be attending for interview and there was only one valid nomination and we the interview committee would be recommending that subject to interview, Noel Connelly and Pat Holmes be appointed. The committee the prepared a statement that was agreed with Kevin McStay and this was subsequently released to the media. This statement was prepared and approved by all available members of the executive, it was incorrect in one respect. It stated that the Mayo senior football team interview committee met with the executive of the county board, there was no such meeting. And I regret this error. The available members of the executive were however informed of our proposed recommendation of Noel Connelly and Pat Holmes subject to interview.

"There has been a huge amount of criticism of the way the whole thing was handled by the county board and of me in particular. I regret in particular the statement that said there was a meeting between the Mayo senior football manager interview committee and the executive. In our defence we were dealing with an evolving situation, part of which was being played out on the national airwaves and on a day when there were county semi-finals taking place in MacHale Park. We were reacting to the situation and not in control of it, I accept that with retrospect we could have done some things differently. Hindsight is wonderful and looking in the cold light of day some of the decisions made, they must appear clumsy, but there was no conspiracy at no stage did we try to favour one candidate over the other. It was clear to us, there were parts of Kevin McStay's proposals were not acceptable to the county board officers, and there was no point interviewing him. Kevin McStay himself has accepted this. If you look at any of the statements made in person by Kevin McStay, there is very little that can be disputed and there is very little disagreement between us. However statements made by others who were not present at any of these meetings are misleading and are disingenuous. Our opposition to Kevin McStay's proposal was not based on it being to radical and to much change for the county board. He was not told that his proposal was not good enough, but there were some aspects of his proposal that were simply unacceptable to the county board. These were his proposals and terms, and I do not feel that I'm at liberty to disclose them and I will not be doing so.

"We are now in the fortunate situation,to have a competent and committed management team, Noel Connelly and Pat Holmes to recommend whole heartily to the county board for approval. It would be a shame to lose sight of this after a process that has generated more heat that light and for which I have to take some responsibility.”

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