Mayo are on the look out for a new senior football manager after the inevitable resigning of joint managers Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly last Friday night. It was a somewhat embarrassing saga in the Mayo GAA family that such an event occurred. By the time Noel and Pat resigned I had simply had enough. I was so drained from talking about it and anxiously waiting for any developments that I was relieved there was closure.
It was a horrible week for everybody with pretty much everyone seeing both sides of the argument. I imagine Noel and Pat will have more memorable weeks as it can’t have been easy on them or their families. Noel and Pat made the correct decision resigning and can still walk away from this as proud Mayo men, nothing will change that. They gave it their best shot and did whatever they saw fit in pursuit of the Holy Grail. Their efforts obviously weren’t on the same wavelength, however, as the panel who have big expectations in terms of training and preparation both mental and physical and obviously the players felt Noel and Pat were unable to execute on the overall package.
Show of solidarity by players
Their position was untenable, they had lost the trust of the players and, for those of us who thought the players had made a rash decision and didn’t think it through before issuing a vote of “no confidence”, our questionability was answered in a true sign of solidarity when 28 of them turned up for the players' meeting with the two county board members instead of just the two players' representatives, Keith Higgins and Cillian O'Connor. Walking back into a dressing room where the players didn’t want you was simply never going to work. It’s just a shame the saga has got such negative publicity on a national front with every journalist in the country having his or her opinion on it.
I am just wondering one thing, had Mayo beaten Dublin in that drawn semi final and then went on to defeat Kerry in the final (it could easily have happened ) where would we stand? Would there have been a problem then? Would the players still have issued the vote of no confidence to the management who had just delivered an All-Ireland title that the county has been longing for? I somehow think not. It’s something we will never know. There are such fine lines between success and failure.
The search for a replacement is now the priority, I have no doubt the players' actions may put off potential suitors. James Horan, Stephen Rochford, Jim McGuiness, and Jack O'Connor are the names being thrown around. Rochford and Horan seem to be the front runners but does Horan want to go back? Do the county board want him back? Is the county board deciding who the new manager is going to be, as is the norm, or are the players offering candidates? Are they getting an input into the process? These are all the questions we would love the answers to. This process could go on for a while.
The Neale lay down a marker
There were some tremendous performances in the Mayo club championship last weekend. Knockmore’s 20 point drubbing of Kiltane is likely to give Castlebar something to think about for this weekend although I’m sure many Knockmore folk would have preferred to sneak by Kiltane and save a big performance for Castlebar on Sunday; their element of surprise is gone.
I really enjoyed the intermediate semi-finals last Sunday. The Neale were super impressive in beating Moy Davitts to reach their first ever intermediate final just three years after winning the junior title. Pat Casey (the John O'Shea of the Neale ) was everywhere on Sunday covering every blade of grass and getting in some vital blocks for his team, while up front Seanie Cosgrove and Aidan O'Sullivan were simply too hot to handle for the Moy Davitts rearguard. The Neale full forward line accounted for 2-11 of their 2-16 total. Hollymount Carramore put in a very businesslike performance against Belmullet in securing their passage to the final. In a very tactically aware contest they used Robert Molloy expertly as a sweeper to mop up in front of his full back line, while also using full forward Kevin Costello to stay glue tight to Chris Barrett to negate his influence, Costello chipping in with two points of his own. Darren Coen reminded us of his capabilities, scoring an impressive eight points for his team, six of which were from play. No doubt the new Mayo manager will have him on his radar if he keeps that up. The all south Mayo final should be a cracker.