I got a text alert from The Brother last night telling me he’d read in the Western (the paper version that is) that Ray Dempsey had been the only nominee for U21 manager to be proposed at the County Board meeting last Wednesday night. I texted him back to say that I hadn’t heard anything about this but that if there was something to it then the Mayo News would surely have the story today. There is and here it is, in the form of the first interview to be conducted with the county’s new U21 manager, one Ray Dempsey.
This is great news, both the fact that The Brother wasn’t spoofing me but more importantly that Ray has been given the chance to work again with the lads he’s had at minor level over the past three years. Ray makes the point in that interview that the 2007 cohort, who fell at the first hurdle in that year’s minor championship, will have a point to prove at U21 level next year but the panel he assembles for the county’s fifth successive defence of its provincial title at this level will also surely include the cream of the crop from the two sides that reached the All-Ireland in 2008 and again this year. Ray says that “the door is open for everyone” that’s eligible to play U21 for the county next year and that trials will be held early in the New Year prior to putting together a championship panel. In a typically Rayesque manner, the Knockmore man called on all eligible players to “get themselves ready to give themselves the best possible opportunity to play county football”.
Elsewhere in the Mayo News, Johnno puts on his best sourpuss visage and has a bit of a moan about how hard next year’s Connacht championship draw is for us. No surprises there, I guess, and, in fairness to El Jefe, he did admit “sure, that’s how the cards have been dealt to us”. He’s mellowing, I reckon.
That same article, by the way, also confirms that Conor Mortimer and Alan Dillon will both be in the Antipodes until mid-February and so will miss the first few NFL matches. It’s also stated in that report there was a bit of a frank exchange of views between Johnno and the County Board executive at a behind-closed-doors meeting last week about team re-building and where we’re heading as we face into 2010. The usual closed season stuff, in other words.