Time and time again that never-ending conveyor belt of first class Mayo footballers has concealed and masked officialdom that simply are unable or unwilling to match the calibre of player this county produces. Seven senior All-Ireland finals in 25 years prove the players are there. Seven senior losses point the finger at something other than meeting Kerry etc. at the wrong time. Other factors are in play.
I believe that successive County Boards since 1951 have hindered our county. Individual well-meaning people held back by others simply unsuitable to operate on that landscape. From the bizarre walking away of Mickey Moran in 2006 after ten months in charge to the acceptance of four years of mediocrity culminating in Longford in 2010 before, once more, fate and good footballers intervened.
One of the up-shots of 2010 was the Strategic Review. Good people put an excellent document in place. The Mayo County Board’s contribution to this process was (a) the submission of the Galway Strategic plan with the word “Galway” scrawled out and (b) a tepid “welcome” that saw the plan fizzle into the sand.
Had Mayo submitted a Tyrone or Dublin Strategic Plan then I would have saluted them. By using the Galway one it was an indication of an obsession with Galway and an acceptance of a document from a county itself off the national radar since 2007.
County football nowadays is a business best exemplified by Dublin. Transparency and commercial plans allied to modern coaching separate the chaff from the wheat. The support and infrastructure needs to be first-rate. If we look at the trip to London in 2011, the ticket fiasco for the 2012 All-Ireland final where the public knew how many tickets each club in Donegal got but no-one had a clue about the Mayo distribution or allocation, we can see that this isn’t the case.
There is serious money and goodwill out there for Mayo. However, I have been informed by people with deep pockets and Green and Red blood that they would not nor could not contribute under the present system.
MacHale Park has a debt that is shrouded in obfuscation, whilst we know exactly how stands the Dublin finances and sponsorship figures. Simply, we haven’t a clue regarding the Mayo figures. At a minimum the Mayo followers, the bedrock of the county, are entitled to those figures. Those are not the preserve of a tight coterie. Once fully fleshed out, who knows – maybe real help will come?
Currently we await the County Convention early next month. Just as the team secured its place as anvil hard against Kerry, with a poor referee and an unfair venue, the County Board go and makes a pig’s ear out of the subsequent managerial appointment.
Truly had this been a business on the stock exchange, the directors would have been fired. Like post-2010 we are in Groundhog Day once more. The serious graft, blood sweat and tears of the last four years by the players are once more enmeshed in County Board politics.
The Convention comes down to a simple choice really. We either continue the old ways, which is likely to result once again in brave boys reaching for the stars but coming short, or else we (the clubs and members) could decide to give a chance to new blood with fresh ideas, business heads entwined with Tír Grá, and set new standards and open new horizons for our players by utilising that new blood’s acumen and energy.
When he was involved with the county back in 2006, John Morrison stated that the most natural gifted footballers in Ireland hail from Kerry, Donegal and Mayo. He was correct. The first two won recent All-Irelands , we contested two of them. When a blue blood county resorts to firing an opposing player’s boot into the crowd, serially foul and depend on a benevolent referee to shepherd them into the final, it shows how Mayo have become a real force. Surely we deserve a County Board that reflects the players this county produces.
Please cast aside political alliances, clubs and delegates. Please elect men and indeed women who will break through that final frontier and help us to shove Liam O Neill’s caustic words down his throat. We deserve no less.