According to this article in the ever-reliable Mayo News, Johnno confirmed to the County Board last night that he would be staying on for the final year of his current term as Mayo manager. He apparently told delegates last night that he needed to “take stock” after the Tyrone defeat (most supporters needed to take stout, and lots of it, at that juncture) but had now decided to stay on. Why? He didn’t really give an answer to that, bar saying that “we’re trying to get a real team ethic where everybody works for everybody else” which all sounds fine and dandy but doesn’t explain why it’s taken him all this time to decide that this is what he wants to do. He does say that “I would die happy if I could bring the success we all crave” but, given the amount of porter we’d all be lorrying into us after we’d lifted a fourth Sam, I reckon we’d all be in danger of the same fate.
It sounds as if Johnno took a bit of stick last night with one of the County Board Officers saying that many delegates would have been disappointed with Mayo’s performance over the past two years. Johnno’s response to this – as well as his earlier contention that we’d “made progress” under the Second Coming – was a bit curious, as he said that:
Anyone with that view might not have been listening when I took over the team. I said I had no magic wand. We’d been in four All-Ireland finals without success and what we’re looking to do is build a platform to get back to that stage again.
I’m not sure what exact words Johnno did utter when he returned to the hot seat in late 2006 but I can’t recall him telling us to forget about winning Connacht, never mind the All-Ireland. I think we all accept by now the bit about the magic wand but this guff about building platforms to get back on stages all sounds a bit lame to me. As for his claim that we’ve made progress over the past two years, well I suppose if you include progress of the backward variety within that term, he may have a point. It’s blindingly obvious that we’re in far worse shape than we were at the end of the Mickey Moran era and it’s disingenuous to suggest otherwise.
Anyway, enough of the parsing (and bitching), at least we know now where we stand for next year. Although we’ve underachieved badly in the championship over the past two years, I’m still convinced that there’s enough footballing talent within the county to enable us to re-emerge as one of the top teams in the country, perhaps even as early as next year. We know we should have beaten both Galway in the Connacht final and Tyrone in the qualifiers this year – and here I’m at one with Johnno when he says we that “we got no breaks, refereeing or otherwise” in that game – and we have to make winning Connacht our number one aim next year. While it may be true (especially this year) that provincial failure is no impediment to national success, I still firmly believe that unless we win Connacht we’re not going to punch our weight against the kind of counties we can expect to meet in the All-Ireland series. So whatever about ethics and platforms and all the rest, 2009 has to be about regaining the Connacht title and then seeing where that takes us. Anything short of this can only be regarded as failure.