The Irish Examiner has today followed up on the story they broke yesterday about Cian O’Neill’s departure from Mayo’s management set-up with a piece definitely confirming that the Moorefield man will not be staying on as team coach next year. In doing so, the paper reports that O’Neill has denied he’s jumping ship to join Kerry and he’s claimed instead that it’s health problems relating to his back that have forced him to resign after a year in the role.
O’Neill’s departure obviously leaves a pretty major gap in James Horan’s backroom team and I guess the hope must be that there’s something to the story the Irish Examiner had yesterday that Barry Solan would be joining the set-up. As well as developing further on the playing side, it’s vital that we’re also fully tooled up on the sideline next year – James hinted at this at the post-match banquet on Sunday night when he publicly called for greater “investment” from everyone involved in the push for All-Ireland glory – and so it’s important that this key appointment is nailed down as quickly as possible.
I know most of us are still in emotional rehab after Sunday but it seems clear that the GAA’s scheduling department isn’t going to allow us to wallow in self-pity for any decent length of time at all. This is because, as @clubmayo pointed out this morning, the draw for next year’s championship is set to take place on Thursday of next week (4th October). Moreover, with Leitrim leaping over to New York and Sligo sloping off to London, this means that ourselves, Galway and the Rossies will be in the pot for the preliminary round and if we draw either of them we’ll be facing them in an opening round tie on their home turf.
Many would say that after our handy draw in Connacht dish ear we’re due something a bit more challenging in 2013 and a Salthill date with Galway in late May, for example, would certainly fit the bill in this respect. If this does come about, it’d be a repeat of the draw we got in 2007 following our last All-Ireland final appearance. It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that what happened to us that day shows that any assumptions about going one better in 2013 need to be tempered by the realisation that before we can start to think about winning Sam next year, we first have to plan for making our way through the championship minefield and back to the final once more.