This week’s Mayo News (paper and digital versions) has plenty on the appointment of the new management team, the short version of which has already been outlined in the comments. The most important bit, I guess, relates to the new backroom team with the paper confirming the key appointments that Noel Connelly and Pat Holmes intend to make.
The good news – which has been well trailed already – is that coach Donie Buckley has agreed to stay on with the team in the same role over the coming year. While it could be argued that a new coach would freshen up our style of play next year, Donie has been one of the main reasons we’ve been as formidable as we have over the past two years. There’s a lot to be said for continuity in this area and it’s great that the Kerryman is happy to stay on to provide this.
Ed Coughlan isn’t, though, remaining on board and the new man coming in on the strength and conditioning side is Barry Solan. You might remember that he was one of the names being mooted to replace Cian O’Neill following his departure from the set-up in the immediate aftermath of the 2012 final. The Ballaghaderreen native sounds like a very sensible addition to the backroom team.
So too does Micheál Collins, who was also part of the Connelly/Holmes management team at U21 level. The Lacken clubman, who lined out at half-back for us in the 1989 All-Ireland final, joins the new management team as a selector.
The appointments are set to be confirmed by the County Board Executive on Thursday night but that meeting looks like it will be dominated by the fallout from the appointment process itself. The Mayo News has plenty on this as well and, on the face of it, the process sounds like it was a complete shambles from start to finish.
In his piece on the issue, Ed McGreal reports that the County Board Executive committee met on Friday evening to convene an interview panel, with the format of the interview process also agreed along with the dates for the interviews. These were scheduled to take place today and tomorrow, with a report then being made to the County Board Executive on Thursday and the appointment to be formally ratified by the full County Board at its meeting next Monday.
It then transpired, however, that Kevin McStay was reportedly contacted by County Board Chairman Paddy McNicholas on Saturday morning to tell him that they were going with the two lads. No interviews were held with the nominated candidates and it’s not clear on what basis the decision was made but by the time Paddy Mc spoke with Kevin McStay the die had clearly been cast.
When word began to leak out about the decision over the course of Saturday afternoon the Board then had to issue a hurried statement later in the evening confirming what was happening. They only did so, however, after the Comical Ali line they put out during the day about interviews still having to be held had been exposed as a blatant untruth.
It’s clear that there’s considerable anger within the County Board at the amateurish and unprofessional way the decision makers in this process handled the issue. In this regard, it appears that the statement that was released on Saturday evening confirming the Connelly/Holmes appointment is also a bone of contention, as this refers to a meeting between the interview panel and the County Board Executive on Saturday that four members of the Executive are adamant did not take place.
The depth of anger amongst County Board members who were not directly involved in the process was illustrated by the decision of Executive member Gerry Bourke to tender his resignation, branding the process as a “sham”. It’s hard not to agree with him and I reckon that once you’ve read the full sequence of events as described by Ed McGreal in the paper, you’ll be of the same mind too.
What’s most annoying, I think, is that the appointment of Noel and Pat – which could, in time, prove to be a shrewd decision (though of course there’s no guarantee at this point that it will) – has been so overshadowed by the imbecilic way that the thing was handled and, in particular, by the shocking lack of respect shown to Kevin McStay. He’s also interviewed, by the way, in this week’s Mayo News and the dignified and magnanimous position he takes on the outcome of the appointment process speaks volumes for him.
It’s also the case that the shambolic appointment process reflects extremely badly on those who were responsible for running it. It goes without saying that those involved should now be held fully accountable for the monumental hames they made of it.