Various media source are reporting this morning that the five nominees for the vacant position of Mayo manager are Mick O’Dwyer, John Maughan, Denis Kearney, Anthony McGarry and James Horan. Understandably, most of the media attention has focused on the candidacy of the Waterville maestro who would obviously be a high-profile appointment.
Despite his long and distinguished track record, however, I don’t see Micko as the man for the job, not least in view of where we’re at right now. The national media would love it, for sure, as it’d give them plenty of fodder for lazy-minded ‘Micko’s Mayo’ guff and, regardless of how we’d fare under him, there’d be plenty of vomit-inducing copy with which we’d have to cope. Succeed and it’d be the one about Micko waving his magic wand and turning our vale of tears into a land of milk and honey, fail and it’d be how even the Greatest Manager of All Time couldn’t deal with our deep psychological failings. Personally, I think this is a circus we can do without.
In his last two stints on the sideline, John Maughan led us to the All-Ireland final on no less than three occasions and, but for the bounce of a ball that will haunt all of us ’till our dying days, he could just as easily be resting on his laurels as The Man Who Led Us To The Promised Land in 1996. Many of the present failings in our senior team would, we can be sure, be addressed in short order under a Maughan III regime but I’m not fully convinced that, by once more going back to the future, we’re going to end up where we want to go with such an appointment. That said, if it came down to a choice between Maughan and Micko, I’d have the Crossmolina man in a flash.
I know little about the candidacies of Denis Kearney and Tony McGarry – can anyone enlighten the world in this respect? – and so there’s little I can say for or against either of them. Neither have, as far as I’m aware, a strong track record in this area (though, as I’ll argue in a minute, I don’t think that should be a determining factor in the appointment) and I don’t know what attributes either of them would bring to the job. Short of being a fly on the wall at the interview stage, I don’t know how one would go about answering these questions. I guess all that can be said is that they both deserve a hearing but that the ball is in their court to put forward a compelling case as to why they should get the job.
For my money, though, the obvious standout candidate from this quintet has to be James Horan. He has some management experience at club level (along with Tony Duffy in Ballintubber) but hasn’t done anything so far on the inter-county stage. I don’t think that’s hugely relevant: Kieran McGeeney, Pat Gilroy and Kevin Walsh were all first-timers at this lark when given the reins of their respective counties and they’ve all outperformed in the role. What they all have – and what I think James Horan has too – is a strength of personality and a level of footballing intelligence that makes them very effective leaders. James also knows the club scene thoroughly and, providing he can assemble the kind of backroom teams that McGeeney, Gilroy and Walsh were able to, I think he could be an inspired choice for us.
It’s still, however, early days in this process. As I understand it, there’s still time for other candidates to emerge and, once a definitive shortlist is arrived at, the whole selection process (in terms of interviews and so forth) has to take place. As a result, I think any fears about a speedy appointment of Mick O’Dwyer to the job are misplaced. Indeed, I reckon that any fears at all on that score are likely to be wide of the mark.
If there’s anything we learned from the ill-fated Johnno II era, it’s that appointing the wrong person for the wrong reason is something we’ll be left with plenty of time to rue. Whoever gets the job this time has to do so as part of a plan to build for the future and while the appointment of the next manager isn’t the be-all and end-all in terms of getting us to the destination we all want to get to – there’s much to do too with regards structures and so forth if we’re ever to have any hope of become a serious footballing power again – whoever we pick has to be part of the answer. I can see why James Horan would fit the bill in this regard but, despite all he’s achieved in the past, I can’t see how appointing Micko could form any part of such a plan.