Here’s a new Strategic Action Plan, lads

In their inestimable wisdom, the County Board have now decided to ditch the Strategic Action Plan produced some months back by the Steering Committee chaired by Liam Horan and have instead come up with their own one.  Anyone who wants to see this shiny new version (which is a ‘final draft’) can do so here.  If you’re into comparing and contrasting, the original Action Plan is here.

As most of you will know, the plan produced by Liam’s Steering Committee involved significant direct input from over 80 people (I even played a small part in the process myself).  I have no idea how many hands (or minds) produced the new version.  They say that V2.0 contains “about 70%” of the recommendations contained in the original plan.  You might want to check the veracity of that statement yourself but, from my reading of it, this can’t possibly be the case.

The Steering Committee has this morning formally disassociated itself from the new version of the Plan.  Here’s the full statement that was issued in this respect:

On Sunday last, May 15th, our steering committee received a draft of a Mayo GAA Strategic Action Plan. Given that our extended group of 86 people had devoted six months to a series of meetings where we sought to produce a strategic action plan for Mayo GAA, we were curious to see the contents of the plan now produced by Mayo County Board.

Mayo GAA Board asked us to do this work over the winter of 2010/’11. Our committee did not force itself upon them. Our work was to form part of a “root and branch examination” (the board’s words, not ours) of Mayo GAA.

The final plan now produced ticks a box, but does no more than that. Somewhere, an entry can now be made: “Yes, Mayo now has a strategic plan.” But it is a dry document without any soul or heart.

The plan produced does not provide for Mayo doing something dramatic, something bold, something truly innovative. It is hard to disagree with any of the proposals in it, but it certainly will not inspire.

If adopted, it means that Mayo GAA is happy to keep doing what it has always done, thereby continuing to fail to realise its vast potential as a GAA force. A strategic plan should have vision, creativity and passion – the very traits that should be synonymous with our county, and the very traits our people have displayed here in Mayo, throughout Ireland, and all over the world.

This is a plan that could be produced by any county, anywhere – any county simply aspiring to tick a box.

The plan has over 9,000 words, but completely lacks any inspirational dimension. It ticks boxes in many areas – coaching, finance, harnessing the support of Mayo people world-wide, and others – but it doesn’t go in deep enough to create the conditions whereby genuine innovations and unstoppable momentum might be generated by Mayo GAA.

Our committee has written to Mayo county board to disassociate our names from the plan.

Root and branch? The plan now produced barely touches on the healthiest leaf on the tree, let alone delve further. It refuses to take the hard and difficult decisions necessary for success. It is a missed opportunity.

It seems Mayo GAA wishes to keep doing what it has always done, and so no-one in the future should wonder why we will continue to get the results we’ve all too frequently got.

From time to time, we get results that are uplifting and joyous. Hopefully we may even get one such result this very year.

But, taken as part of a continuum, the results achieved are rarely of a scale consistent with a county of our size, our passion for GAA, and our supportive Diaspora.

Mayo GAA deserves better.

Given that I’m not exactly an unbiased observer to this process, I don’t propose to say a whole load more on the issue. While accepting that the County Board are perfectly within their rights to do what they’re doing, I also think that they’re 100% wrong in taking the route they’ve chosen. Their Action Plan will solve none of problems and address none of the shortcomings identified by the Steering Committee and their decision to come out with their own pathetically timid plan is one which, I fear, could have long-term negative consequences for us as a GAA county.

20 thoughts on “Here’s a new Strategic Action Plan, lads

  1. Ditto WJ. I too tossed a sod on the fire that did the Steering Review. So I might be biased.

    I will leave it to the legendary Eamon Mongey twice an All-Ireland winner to say what I think. “The Mayo County Board hindered rather than helped us win …it was despite them rather than because of them we achieved. Nothing I have seen since has caused me to alter my opinion”.

    Those words were uttered in 1982. I find them appropriate today.

  2. This is a disappointing decision.

    There is going to be a barrage of criticism from the County Board but there is nothing to say (and with the greatest of respect to Willie joe, and ontheroad and others) that everything that was said in Liam’s report was the way forward. The group played a bad game of politics in my opinion.

    So we have a report and playing devils advocate and debating the matter what has been left out from the original report that should anger us? And what is positive in the new report.

    it is a very comprehensive document and many will comment but few will read it.

  3. While I appreciate Liam Horan’s passion for Mayo GAA, he should have known that throwing a substantial document at the Mayo County Board in such an ‘all or nothing’ way was never going to work. Like it or not the CB hold the power and if you get into bed with them you have to accept that.

    I know that the group wanted what is best for Mayo football and entered into all of this in good faith, but by throwing the toys out of the pram and walking away now it leaves the impression that they are more interested in saving face than in the future of the team. Surely it is better to get 50% of what was originally wanted and stay on board to achieve all that can be done despite the politics involved, rather than abandoning the plan and ending up with nothing other than division and regret.

    It looks like this whole process will now do more harm than good to Mayo GAA and unfortunately the group have to bear some responsibility for this.

    Apologies to anyone I have offended but this is how it looks to me on the outside of all this.

  4. Nothing has changed since E.Mongey’s time.Shame on C.B for dismissing a plan drawn up by a big group of -IMO,knowledgeable football people who had only the best interest of Mayo football in mind when giving of their time to all those meetings last winter.

  5. It’s actually quite easy to judge the original document against the new document.

    The original document has a list of its recommendations. I think there are seventy-five of them – there or thereabouts. So, what you need to do is this:

    1. List those seventy-five recommendations.
    2. Give each of those recommendations a score out of ten based on your own assessment of how worthwhile you think it is.
    3. Add up the scores.
    4. List the Board’s recommendations.
    5. Mark those out of ten.
    6. Add them up.
    7. Compare with the original list.

    And then figure out which report you think is better. When you’re marking, it’s fun to look for actual, practical things to do, as opposed to proposing another six year plan as part of this six year plan, as this “final draft” does. It’s extraordinary, really. Extraordinary. Wait ’til Vincent Browne hears of it – he’ll go ape.

    Declan wonders why Horan washes his hands of it instead of fighting the good fight. My guess is it was because if he didn’t then he’s the scapegoat for later – which is more than likely the plan all along. But Horan still entered the Lions (Lyons?) Den on the 50/1 shot he could do some good despite them. He failed, but at least he tried. Whatever disaster lays in wait for Mayo, Horan did his bit to stop it. As Dorothy Parker said long ago, you can lead a horticulture but you can’t make her think.

  6. such a farce if you ask someone to do a job you should let them complete it….committee spent from what i hear alot of time and work into this and the cb doesnt seem to respect this…if we fail to prepare then we prepare to fail!

  7. @ declan

    We are always accepting 50% and we are sick of it, if these people gave their time and commitment for no financial reward, their ideas should have been accepted. The County Board need to commend these dedicated Mayo Gaa people, have a tall cup of “wakethefu*^up”, and accept their ideas.

  8. An awful lot of questions that need to be answered by everyone involved.

    For instance how come no one (or did they) knew about this other “Final Draft”.

    Was it ever discussd that maybe only a certain (e.g. 70)% of ideas would be taken on board?

    How was this approved ? Was it put to a vote at a county board meeting ?

    How much did it cost and can this cost now be justified considering our financial exposure as it stands?

    I have to say that in the manner that its been laid out that I presume there will be some sort of inquest by the media and all involved into what has gone wrong?

  9. Can I ask Declan a few question’s. Who gave a handful of Mayo men such power? Is the Mayo county board answerable to the clubs? Is it the clubs that run Mayo or a few men?

    As far as I am aware the Mayo county team belongs to us all not a cabal of committee men. The county board asked Liam Horan for a Review. Once they got it that same county board fought it to the last. Why?

  10. P.S no toys were thrown out of the pram. The Review was completed ages ago. The only thing thrown out was that Review by the very men that commissioned it.And the people involved in that comprehensive Review don’t want to be associated with diluted orange juice.

  11. ontheroad the Mayo county team does not belong to us all. It belongs to the clubs and a supporter does not have the equal right to a say as a club member. It is an antiquated and frutrating chain of control but that is what is there.

    I am a long time reader of this superb site but a first time contributor because of the lazy analysis that these matters get. Mayo County Board have been a barrier to success in the county for too long and this review was to be welcomed. Liam or his hardworking Committees were never going to get 100% of what they wanted through. They were ambitious but they pulled against the Board rather than work with them and now they have been gazumped.

    This was the announcement of Liam’s appointment – He said himself that what he was doing was providing an “outline proposal”. Any decision was going to have to be taken by the club delegates as to whether it was going to be accepted or not.

    My own view is that the Strategic Review Report should be adopted and should be the start of a more positive, modern and ambitious future for Mayo football but infighting of the Board and the Review Committee (who appear to me to be both acting like spoilt kids) means that it will not. I hope both reports go before the next County Board meeting. The clubs are unlikely to vote against the Executive but as club members it is up to us to challenge our delegates to represent our views on the matter.

  12. To be honest I think the statement from the origonal Strategic Action Plan group (the continuity SAP?, its true what they say the first thing we do on anything is form a commitee, the second thing is split), should have gone lower on the sentiment and higher on the facts to get their point across. I can completley understand their anger but you have to play the long game in these things and a statement outlining the differences between the two and where they think its wrong would have bene better then the “Ochon, Ochon” statement that came out.
    Having said that they are completley right to be very angry, how arrogant of the county board to ask those people to spend all their own time, effort, energies and probably money to come up with a comprehensive work (which it was/is) and then toss it away without any real debate or reason for some other plan, and say that it is the “Final Solution”.
    It once again shows that the CB believe themselves the only people worthy to guide Mayo football, they own it and the rest of us are misguided if we think we have any say in it besides buying our Lotto tickets, paying supporters club subs and paying in over the stile in McHale Park, or elsewhere.

  13. East Cork exile. Outline the “ochon, ochon” part for me, I cannot find it anywhere. The Review committee spent a long winter working on a plan as requested by the then Mayo chairman.
    Once done, the county board tried their utmost to prevent its publication.

    Once published the Review committee was obsolete.

    The county board rejected it in the main and published their version of what they want. Thats their right . The Review Committee could not be associated with such a document thus they did the honorable thing and asked that their names be deleted from the County Boards offering.

    Far from being “ochon ochon” for once we see Mayo people with a bit of balls and gumption. If the clubs in Mayo buy tomorrows nights county board project then let them or indeed the general populace of Mayo never whinge about the county board ever again. The original Strategic Review gave all of Mayo a stake in OUR county team.

    The new report is just a shelf filler and dust gatherer and perhaps that will satisfy a lot of people.

  14. From afar it appears that a few ego’s need massaging on both sides of the fence. The bottom line should be the greater good of GAA in the county. If there is a genuine interest in progressing GAA in the county then the CB should certainly not act so dismissively of the possibilty of change, neither should the Steering group walk away when all of their proposals are not immediately adopted. Personally speaking I agree with the comments above in that this is a huge oppotunity for the county to step ahead of the rest. With all due respect to others, there are only a handful of counties that are as GAA obsessed as Mayo and yet we seem to be content to plod along as just another county. Oftentimes you hear about the great facilities in counties like Tyrone, their development systems and innovative techniques-why cant we lead the way? We certainly spend enough time thinking and talking about football to be be doing something about it. The efforts of the Steering committee are to be applauded, they have certainly put their shoulder to the wheel. Nobody within the CB are doing their jobs for the good of their health, I would imagine it is a thankless task at times-so surely there are enough well intentioned people within both camps that can produce a progressive strategy for the county agreeable to most.

  15. Hi ontheroad. I have tried to keep this short and have failed miserably.

    Can I firstly offer my thanks to yourself, WJ and everyone else who took the time to assist in the preparation of your document, it shows great support and commitment to your county that you were willing to donate your spare time to the cause. Our team belongs to us all, but we cannot all run the show. So we therefore have some elected men making the tough decisions and hopefully being held accountable for them. We all know that they get a lot of decisions wrong but if they are not going to be democratically removed and replaced then we must work with them to achieve whatever we can.

    I just think the group went in too hard too soon with an all or nothing approach that has now backfired. I remember listening to LH on Mid-West at the time of the release of the report and he didn’t seem interested in compromise. He wanted the plan accepted 100%. While this would have been an ideal situation for the steering group, knowing our CB as we all do it was fanciful to say the least. It all comes down to power and politics in the GAA as much as anywhere else. The CB hold the power and we must all work within this reality. Unfortunately now both sides want to get the last say, preserve their reputation, save face. This is not what it should be about.

    I’m sure the response in the article above above was solely coined by Horan – it certainly sounds like him. I genuinely believe you have been let down by the head of your group in the above statement. They are the words of a man hurting from rejection who has lost sight of the common goal – the improvement of Mayo football in any (even small) way possible, what we all want to see. There is no place for egos, especially from those who do not hold the power. If he was really still solely focussed on this, his response would have read along the lines of “we are disappointed to see that proposals a, b and c are not in the final draft, but are encouraged at the inclusion of proposals d, e and f. While the document falls far short of our original hopes it represents a notable step forward in development of GAA in the county. We will continue to urge the CB to reconsider our other proposals going forward and urge club delegates to put forward our views where possible and appropriate.”

    Now I know the above is political BS of the highest order, but it keeps the door open and allows the group to claim credit for what is good in the report while absolving themselves of responsibility by noting that much of what they wanted has been omitted. As has been stated by others above, the actual response is high on sentiment and low on facts. It does not do justice to the work that has been put in by the group as it in no way argues their case as set out in the original plan. Walking away suggests that the development of Mayo GAA is no longer the number one priority here. I know that this is not really the case. But the group must accept that Rome wasn’t built in a day and any step forward at all must be dealt with positively and used as a catalyst for further progress in the future. But you have to stay at the table to have a say. I’m all for ‘balls and gumption’ but sometimes balls and gumption involves swallowing a bit of pride for the greater good. This is where I feel the group have erred.

  16. To understand whats going on at CB its worth looking back to the post Longford weeks and the feelings within the ranks of mayo supporters.
    Was the reason for ” Lets have a review ” anything to do with sorting out the ills of Mayo football or some thing to do with clever politics — throwing some meat to the baying hounds.
    It is very sad to see a man of Horan’s pedigree who appeared to take the CB at face value last year, becoming, if only by association, embroiled in such a charade.
    Fair play to him at least for distancing his work from the sorry lot.

  17. Declan, the respone you suggest should have come from Liam Horan would be like the Green party taking only some of the blame for the four years of government from 2007-2011. Either you want to be associated with something or you do not. Either you think it is progressive or you do not. My reading of it is very simple – the review group are not happy with any of the substance of the board’s document. They see it as tokenism of the highest order – ‘ticking a box’ is the phrase I think they used. And, to be fair, they’re 100% right there.

    You are right, the Board are democratically elected and the power is there to remove them if the clubs of the county feel it is there desire to do so. But from my experience clubs are afraid to do so, that if they are the only club or among only a few clubs to speak out that they will suffer in the long run, which they will. We’re in a hard bind here. The county board, while well-meaning, are simply not possessed with enough talented people to make proper progress. Until enough clubs say ‘enough is enough’ that isn’t going to change. How many times have we to be signposted the way forward only to do an about turn and settle for mediocrity? I’m sick of it.

  18. Now coming up to the 60th anniversary of our last All Ireland win – that’s nothing to be proud of. But we are still a proud football county and despite no wins in the 60 years we have had our fair share of highs and lows. Last year defintely marked one of the all time lows (losing to Sligo and Longord) both on and off the pitch. The immediate and welcomed response from those in charge of ‘off the pitch’ was to engage in a strategic review. We got the strategic review but that has now ended up in dis-array. So instead of making things better it looks like CB may have made things worse.
    Reading through all the previous posts shows that there were rights and wrongs on both sides. The way it was handled and managed kinda points to a new low in ‘off the pitch’ affairs and the CB plan, regardless of what ideas it now proposes, has already lost in the credibility stakes.

    It’s a sad state of affairs. In a way the whole SAP issue, highlights what’s really wrong with Mayo football i.e a division brought about by politics, egos and agendas. The SAP was a great idea that is now destined to gather dust and it’s only achievement will be to widen the divide.

    I am hoping that the manager and players don’t become effected by all this the SAP/CB debate and fallout but every chance they might because when problems exist they tend to have ripple effects everywhere. Success ‘on the pitch’ depends on lots of things. Ohe day it might be just the players in the spotlight but the standards and example being set elsewhere can contribute to the mindset, attitude and pride in the jersey !

    So like others here I despair but not because of the merits of either of the SAPs or that one SAP is being chosen instead of the other. I despair because the process has exposed the problems and even widened the cracks in Mayo football. I despair because a good opportunity has been lost. I despair because it looks like the SAP will gather dust. I despair because it tells me the background for succes isn’t right. I despair that those in charge aren’t leading by example. I despair because we need to bridge that 60 year gap and this is not the way to do it.
    Everybody loses !

  19. On the road:I was referring to the statement not the strategic action plan which was a fine, factual, well thought out body of work. The point I was trying to make was that they should have held the high moral ground, stated the factual differences between their work and the county boards, where those differences will hurt Mayo football and hopefully allowed public opinion to decide.
    Unfortunately in these things you have to play the game and I think the statement just sounded something from people who rightly pissed off and have given up. Maybe they are realistic in giving up, they are surely more versed in the politics of it than any of us but I think they might have been able to get the public to row in if they went at that statement differently

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