Assessing the damage, looking to the future

I’m back from my little sojourn in that oven that is the Middle East (well, the bit of it I happened to be in) and we’re off en famille to Clare for the weekend so this needs to be a reasonably quick one. I enjoyed greatly the debate that’s been going on here on the site over the past week and much of what I would have had to say about what’s wrong with football scene in the county and what now needs to be done to improve matters has already been said by those of you that have been involved in the debate. As a result, there’s little to be gained at this stage in my adding my tuppence worth to what’s already been well articulated by others.

In any event, things have now begun to move on and, with today’s statement by the County Board announcing “a review of the state of the game in the county”, it could be that things are set to move significantly ahead. The review will, the Board says, be undertaken “in as complete a manner as is possible” and will involve a series of meetings involving clubs and their delegates, as well as members of the senior football panel, who will all be given “the opportunity to express and articulate their views”.

As their statement makes clear – a point highlighted already in the comments on here by DocG – the review will be confined to people who are actively involved in football within the county. This makes sense, I think, as otherwise it would be very difficult to know where to draw the line in terms of who should be involved in the proposed meetings and what the upper limit on numbers would be.

The statement concludes that further details on the review “will follow at a later date” and, clearly, those details are going to be pretty crucial in terms of deciding the usefulness of the exercise. If the whole thing is properly focused, with the meetings designed to tease out particular issues and come up with proposals on what’s to be done in certain areas, then I think it could prove very beneficial. For this to happen, careful thought will need to be given to the format the meetings take and, crucially, who runs them. The real danger is that the whole thing descends into an unfocused “woe is us” bitchfest, where all kinds of simmering resentments come rising to the surface. Good advance preparation should, however, be able to ensure that such an outcome doesn’t happen.

The other concern I’d have is the timing of the thing. The meetings are set to be held “in the coming weeks and months” and while it’s now only the start of July, this is not a process that can be allowed to run past the end of August, as we’ll have to be looking to put a manager in place by the end of September at the very latest. In any event, we don’t need a wide-ranging review to know that whoever is appointed as the next Mayo manager must be in a position, as the last incumbent so clearly wasn’t, to devote sufficient time and attention to doing the job properly.

Given this transparently obvious fact, do we really need to hold off starting to think about who might be the man for the job until this whole review process is done? I’m not sure we do – look, for example, how Sligo’s fortunes have been transformed by simply appointing the right man for the job, without any kind of soul-searching process – but there’s certainly no immediate rush to fill the position, even if names are already beginning to be touted for it. That doesn’t, however, mean that the issue can, or should, be long-fingered. There’s set to be a major turnover in inter-county managers over the coming months and if we decide to recruit someone from outside (which cannot, at this stage, be ruled out) we can’t afford to wait to see who is left without a dancing partner by the time our internal pow-pow has been completed.

These reservations aside, I think that the County Board’s announcement is a welcome one and it provides evidence of a willingness to take action to arrest our recent slump in fortunes on the field. The Board can often be an easy target for those of us on the sidelines to throw rocks at but if we’re ever going to get anywhere as a footballing county, the Board will have to be a significant part of the solution. Their rapid decision – less than a week after the Longford debacle – to initiate this wide-ranging review can, therefore, only be applauded. Many of you who comment here and elsewhere (and do so in intelligent and insightful ways) are, I know, involved in the club scene within the county so now’s the chance to have your say about where we need to go from here. As the saying goes, the opportunities created by a good crisis should never be wasted and so every effort needs to be made to ensure that the openings for change, which the events that have prompted this review created, are not spurned.

22 thoughts on “Assessing the damage, looking to the future

  1. The county board get a lot of stick and maybe rightly so but their is little they can do than put the right man in place.What audit can they do without the management team really.I’m sick to the teeth of hearing the shit some mayo ‘fans’ are talking. ‘We have no men’, ‘players that always let mayo down’.We HAVE a squad of 25-30 footballers all of who are men! We don’t have a paul galvin but only one county has, paul galvin is an exceptional footballer but his traits are not that of a man surely.We have a very good goalkeeper, higgins,cafferky,vaughan,gardiner-the basis of a solid defence, a strong midfield and some of the best forwards on their day as anybody, aos,killer,c mort, dillon-the basis of a strong team, youth coming through.All that can be done is bring in a manager who has modern ideas on the game, a bit of motivation and we’ll be right back!The whole thing went stale this year.We have the talent.

  2. We need defenders and a man to movtivate because our midfield has the ability just not the will to kill themselves trying to win games, our forward line is decent when supplied with ballbut for instance how many times really have we seen half forwards dropping into the halfback line to scrounge for ball and leaving a massive gap between half and full because of our backs and midfields deficiancies. McG has played well against the best but seems to have gone backward and Parsons has everything in his arsenal but goes to war with a toy pistol, We need a Micko type man who will make every player believe that Mayo can on it’s day live with any team in the country.

  3. I think this is a publicity stunt – lets not comment until we see the outcome

  4. I agree with Rayosilke. Furthermore it wont make a blind bit of difference who manages Mayo if the structures are not right.
    Ray Dempsey, John Maughan and Kevin McStay have alluded to the fact that coaching is poor in the county. After losing to Tyrone 2008 Minor Dempsey said the difference between Mayo/Tyrone was in the tecchnical skills.
    Furthermore if the Mayo board continue to allow Croke Park to let referees run amok when Mayo plays then we are doomed. We as a county have had disgraceful decisions given against us over the years right up to the Longford game.
    Often in the stench of a bad defeat we swallow and say nothing. The officals v Meath last year cost us, similarily v Tyrone in 2008. I could go on, the injury to Finn in 1985 was never sorted properly.
    Until we get steel balls away from the pitch, until the structures in the coaching and technical areas are put right , then we are pissing in the wind.
    The club football scene in the county needs to be revamped and challenged. Of course this is real hard work, away from the photo opportunities and big dinners so I dont expect anything to be done.
    Finally the county board should invite submissions from ALL players in the county not just the sorrowful mysteries that flopped in Longford. They should also tell that panel that none of them have the automatic right to a place in the next panel. Had O Mahony done that in November 2007 we might not be in the hole we are in now. I know I said I wouldnt post for a while but already I see bad signs about where we are heading.

  5. I really hope this is isn’t just a load of hot air from our board. My cynicism towards them seems to know no bounds…

    After this disaster of a year, a complete overhaul was to be expected really. Simply appointing a new manager was never going to be the answer to all our problems. Although it would make a good start.
    As has been said, a man with the ability to motivate and -crucially- devote ALL his time (within reason of course) and resources to the job is needed.
    I have no doubts Johnno was/is a good coach, but managing a county team is a full time job nowadays, not a part time hobby.

    And please, no more about that media whore Paidi getting the gig.
    I have no problem with the next manager coming from outside the county, so long as he’s the right man. Paidi is not that.

    Best of luck to the minors on Saturday, lets hope they can give us something to be cheerful about during the summer.

  6. with you rayosilke. Its a positive initial reaction…willing to give them the benefit of the doubt for now. No point in rushing the appointment either.

  7. Lads its only 2 weeks since Sean Rice reminded us of the “wide ranging review”, the setup of a co-ordinated youth system with teams from U-14 up all signing off the same hymn sheet, that was announced with much fanfare after the 2004 all ireland final debacle. As he rightly says, what ever became of that? Theres a common denominator here, the same county board that resided over that is still in place. Now I’m not about to bash the county board, its damn difficult to get people to give the time they do to it, but they do need to question themselves also in this review and critically ask are they serving the best interests of Mayo football. Only then can answer that. But to echo the remarks of others on this, given what happened in 2004 I think this is a waste of time. The county board need to be looked at from the perspective of why mistakes are being repeated, after that we need to ensure we get the right manager. Everything else is a waste of time in the short term. Resurrecting the ideas and the energy of the 2004 plan would be a useful exercise for the medium to long term health of Mayo football but its not going to do this crop of Mayo footballers any good and they should be the first priority.
    Its happened time and time again in both amateur and professional sports that the right man in charge can transform a team almost, to the casual observer, overnight. Fellas who didnt look like the cousin of an inter county footballer suddenly are all star contenders. I dont want to sound like I’m falling into the starry eyed dreaming we’re often accused of, but if they right focus is put on finding the right manager then we could be in significantly better shape this time next year. Who’s that? Thats the million dollar question and one I cant answer. Its a very curious mixture you need in these cases as has been seen from the Johnno debacle, past glories are no guarantee of success it seems, and I for one was convinced we would be serious contenders with Johnno at the helm (what would be especially sickening would be to see him come again and have success with someone else, but we’ll park the horrible thought for now). The likes of Kevin Walsh probably wouldnt have succeeded in Mayo either, I suspect theres alot of lads, who while they dont have celtic crosses in their arse pockets like he does would think they wouldnt have much to learn from him, because hes from only up the road and we dont believe Galway are much better than us (and I’m not saying they are). If thats the case then it wouldnt work. Personally I think they’ll have to take a punt on someone in the county who they think might move us forward, John Maughan hadnt much of a track record and we know what he did (small matter of beating Kerry and winning a Munster final I suppose). Anyway, best of luck to them, I wouldnt envy them the job.
    I’m on the holidays in France since last weekend so thankfully have missed this disaster, although I didnt fall off the boat when I heard unfortunatley it wasnt that much of a shock, the boys at work might have forgotten about it when I get back please God.

  8. Hi WJ , Great to have you back, even if it was only for a few days … I too like you live in the big smoke but home is where the heart is and all that …. I came across an article in todays independent about Dublin written by kieth Barr, and found strikingly similar familiarities in both our plights … Hope you dont mind me adding the link –

  9. I have read most of what has been written about the game V Longford; both beforehand and afterwards. The only person that predicted our possible demise was Liam McHale; he came up against Longford while with Clare and he knew what they were capable of. He got his predictions right for that match.

    It’s good to see a review of the whole “situation” but will the results from this review be put in place? We have had these reviews before as an answer from the Co. Board to apease us, the supporters, however, the length of time to get it done ( a few months) is far too long.

    We should get someone from another County who would be impartial enough to review “our setup” and make recommendations. Because of the bad loss to Longford, everyone associated with the Senior Team are tainted; therefore it would be better to have an outsider review us.

    This idea will not be popular but it is one that will be impartial. It’s like having the Garda complaints board review complaints against the Garda. They are a seperate body; independant of the Gardai themselves so the results they provide are not tainted. We cant have the local GAA officials reviewing themselves because if they find that their own positions are in danger, then these facts could be made disappear.

    I hope the current team come back to the new manager and prove to us, the supporters, that they didnt play well in 2010 and that they will make up for this by going further in the Championship in 2011.

    I for one thank them for the efforts they put in and wish them well with their clubs and look forward to seeing them come back stronger and more focused for next year.


  10. I’m with the previous posters on this one. There is a serious danger that we could spend the next 6 months looking up our own holes and wondering why we cannot see into the future.

    I don’t think we need an indepth review at all. We are clearly producing the talent at the earlier stages. One All-Ireland, numerous Connaught titles and a handful of All Ireland appearances in the last 5 years at U21 and Minor. There is nothing wrong with development in any county with such a record. The only difference between ourselves and Kerry in this regard is that underage Kerry footballers are told before a final that they are there for the EXPERIENCE. They are told that this experience is crucial for WHEN they come back to play in a Senior All Ireland. Winning is good but gaining the experience of enjoying playing in a final is the important thing. This takes the pressure off them before they go on the field and they play to their ability. If they lose, so what, they will be back to collect their senior medals in a few years and this experience will stand to them then.

    On the other hand, we put the entire weight of the county on the young shoulders of our under age players and, if they are beaten, we start the cycle of defeatism with a whole new bunch of players. If you don’t think that there is logic in this argument, just look at the way some of the middling players on underage Kerry teams go on to collect All Stars in their early 20s and compare with our lads.

    As I see it, there are 4 problems in the county, all of which need a bit of common sense rather than further inspection:

    The first is the one I just mentioned.

    The second is a lack of cohesion of purpose in the County Board and Management set up.

    The 3rd is the issue of leadership, both in management and on the field.

    And the fourth is the structure of the Mayo club Championship. Again look to Kerry for the answer here. They have a divisional championship where a player from a small Junior or Intermediate club can me in intercounty company on a team like West Kerry. That way, every good player in Kerry gets a chance to play with the best and you effectively have several squads of intercounty standard training simultaneously throughout the county. Anyone shining through can immediately be promoted to the county squad.

    Food for thought when we wonder if our current squad comprises the best players in Mayo.

    Keep the Faith!

  11. I don’t think we have the best players in place. They might be the most talented (we currently have) at certain individual positions but overall they have not performed reliably together and results have proved this.
    These results go back to last year. It’s obvious now that the form showed in this years League was v. misleading (by all of the top counties involved in Div1), although our misplaced optimism was particularly shown up with subsequent L. final and championship results.

    Is there a glue/formula that can be found to fix these players so they knit together? I’m not so sure and honestly I don’t think so.

    As regards the manager well I don’t think it really matters. How many managers have we had at senior level since 1951? Managers come and go and we’re still in limbo. Managers bring individual styles to counties (f. enough) but if the county doesn’t succeed at the top level then what can that person do but resign and move on?
    IMO it’s just a question of goals. What should the new manager be expected to achieve – say within the first 2 years ? I think these need to be agreed.

    Again IMO it should be either of the following – if we win a connacht title then we should be at least reaching the All ireland semis and coming away with a Credible performance.
    If we don’t then we should be reaching at least the 1/4s through the backk door with again a Credible performance in Croke Park.

    Also as you pointed out ECE didn’t this whole review already happen 5 years ago. Didn’t someone say that the model applied was based on the KK hurlers ? And did it bring success? Well Yes and No. Up to U-21 we had good success, however, not at senior level.
    Was the model discarded at senior level for some reason or did it just not work? No one ever answered this (or asked (publicly) from what I can see).

    There’s a need for a lot of hard questions and honest answers first.

  12. Window dressing ..They have learned from their political friends when the shit hits the fan ,have a tribunal or an inquiry or a review Well it has got the other lot in the suits off the hook often enough
    The 2004 model hit the rocks and never got to see the light of day
    Knowing this they will publish the ’10 model but will the plan lead to action .well my cynicism doubts it.
    As I’ve said previously one of the “Signs” I would like to see from our CB is that they might actually tell us what they do Eg;
    Club member login

  13. Despite Dublin getting the mother and father of a hammering from Meath, Keith Barr(in todays Indo) rightly highlighted the dismal performance of the referee, suggesting that the Dublin Co Board ensure he never ref a Dublin team again. Thats the way. That guy reffed us in the league final and a few of his calls against us were comical. Forget the fact that we were hammered, we are just as entitled to be reffed as fairly as Tyrone or Kerry. Rest assured Barrs comments will be noted. When was the last time that a prominent Mayo spokesman or player actually publicly questioned the outragous decisions that we get thrust upon us. No one because we are afraid we will be laughed at and called whingers thats why. So Paddy O rourke can go walk about inside his own goal line and have no fear that the ref will do his job, or a side line ball can be regularily against us even though its ours. To become great again it will take more than a manager. We gotta stand up for us and damn if we are worried about what others might think about us.Nice, nice Mayo has to be gotten rid off. Perhaps if we took a few Knockmore or Kiltane players on board we might rattle a few rib cages.

  14. I read that earlier ontheroad. I was actually going to post the quotes, but I’ve been doing too much of that lately!
    But it really hit home in relation to ourselves. We have enough county men in the media, yet we never seem willing to make a stand and air our grievances. Maybe we don’t want to seem like whingers, who knows.

    Ok, for old times sake – this is a quote that I thought was actually written by you ontheroad. You’re not Keith Barr are you? I hope not, I normally can’t stand his column.

    “The County Board officials, who are happy to walk across the pitch in Croke Park on championship Sundays, are entrusted with the well-being of county football. They cannot distance themselves from a set-up that they helped create if things go bad, when they’re happy to sit in the dugout, carry water bottles and hand slips of paper to the fourth official”.

    “I appreciate that it was appalling refereeing that kick-started the avalanche last Sunday. Watching a video of the game, I couldn’t believe Padraig Hughes missed Graham Reilly’s foul on the ball which led to the second goal; it was only a couple of yards from him. Nor could I believe he overlooked the foul on Conal Keaney, which had a similar effect”.

    “I believe he hurt Dublin badly and if the County Board officials are to prove their worth as opposed to posing on match day, they will raise serious objections to Hughes ever officiating at a Dublin match again”.

  15. Its good that there will be a total review of football in the county, hopefully there will be a followup on its findings. In my opinion you dont win All-Irelands in September, you win them at underage level. I remember many many years ago playing Ballintubber at underage level, we beat them off the pitch, however in the years since the club put alot of effort into its underage setup, they are argubaly the most successful club in mayo at under age level, the club won the Intermediate championship a couple of years ago, they are now challenging strongly in the senior championship, this is not because james horan is the manager, it is because there are lots of quality players being produced at under age level. the same principal can be applied to the county team, there need to be quality coaching at underage level, to produce quality intercounty players. so hopefully this review will lead to a greater effort being put n at underage level.

  16. And the fourth is the structure of the Mayo club Championship. Again look to Kerry for the answer here. They have a divisional championship where a player from a small Junior or Intermediate club can me in intercounty company on a team like West Kerry. That way, every good player in Kerry gets a chance to play with the best and you effectively have several squads of intercounty standard training simultaneously throughout the county. Anyone shining through can immediately be promoted to the county squad.

    This is what i have said for years, why on earth can’t people see we need to act now to reform club structure.

  17. Dan, wish I was getting the money Barr is getting for doing something we all do as a hobby!. I am from as far west as you can come from, exiled on the green plains of the Royal county . Here I get to bat and defend the home county on a regular basis. Its getting harder I can assure you. Probably if I was at home near the shore I wouldnt have half the interest in the county team. Funny, when you are in exile you get very possesive and defensive about the green and red. Just added Roche from the Herald to my little black book last night. Smart arse with his Dear Frankie bit about Mayo. Funny, when we were allegedly doing well McGee, Roche etc still gave us no credit but when we slip on our arses the boots come in thick and fast. To feel the full force of that type of shit, you gotta live outside the county. Going for a run now.

  18. You have my respect ontheroad, I know I don’t need to say this, but don’t let the ba*****s grind you down!!! Yor penance is more acute having to listen to those short memoried land commissioners, who should be thanking us mayo folks for strengthening the football gene in their so called royal bloodline!! We can only continue to wear our mayo hearts on our sleeves and our resilience and willingness to endure through adversity should be carried as a badge of honour!! We shall overcome………. sometime!!!!!. I’m a galway based exile but my worst ribbing comes from tyrone and kerry folks, thankfully no meath heads in my local, otherwise it might come to blows!!!!Keep her lit roadster!!!

  19. topo d rite. Thanks, no problem, I regard most of them as fools. I remind them that O Rourke as is Leitrim as tehy come (brother ray played for them v Mayo in Connacht c-ship years ago). The Lyons, Harnan and O Malley are of Mayo stock. Indeed you would be hard pressed to find a true Meath man. The land commision thing was nasty and the scent of it still lingers. But we should plough our own furrow and not give a damn for any of them. But, we need our OWN people to stand up for us where it matters. Sorry WJ for hogging.

  20. No problem, ontheroad – you’re not hogging anything. Interesting observation about the exile defending his own place: having spent a number of years abroad (mainly in London), my experience was that these feelings also apply at the national level. Re the knockers, it’s obviously the case that the only way we’ll ever deal properly with them will be by providing our answers on the pitch.

  21. Well said ontheroad, the good news this evening is that the minors beat Leitrim 2-12 to 1-07, connacht final awaits with possible 3 in a row and at the least a place in the AI QF’s!!

  22. What happened Mayo between the lleague final & the championship?
    Did JOM loose the respect of the players?
    What is the word in Mayo?
    Why not bring Maughan back—at least he could motivate our players.

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