The road to where?

The Dublin Strategic Plan was launched recently amid much fanfare and ontheroad contrasts this development with the fate that befell the Mayo GAA Draft Strategic Action Plan that was produced earlier this year. 

Resting on my table waiting to be read and devoured is James Laffey’s excellent book “The Road to 51”. Beside it sits a pamphlet called Unleashing theBlue Wave”: A Strategy for Dublin GAA 20112017. The latter made familiar reading, almost a sense of déjà-vu or Groundhog Day. Going over to my modest bookcase, I fetched out a similar looking pamphlet entitled Mayo GAA-Draft Strategic Action Plan 2011-2016”.

Reading through the Dublin plan which was enthusiastically supported by the county chairman, I came across familiar themes. The first thing of note that surfaced was the relationship with the Dublin colours and jersey. The report went “The blue jersey is a unique inclusive brand”.

The report continued with an unabashed view as to how Dublin saw themselves. “Whilst Blue must become the colour of success, this is no cheap marketing gimmick. Blue is the colour of our Dublin heritage”, mighty words that resonate amongst the followers, a recognition of what binds a people. When were you as a Mayo follower similarly roused?

The Blue Wave continues and like its ill-fated Mayo counterpart, it left no stone unturned. Volunteers are seen thus. “The challenge facing the GAA and Dublin GAA is to open the door to all potential volunteers and keep the door open”. Read that line again…carefully. Last year a question was asked about those who gave their time to put the failed Mayo Strategic plan together, the question posed was this: “Who are those people anyway?” Volunteers I might suggest but plainly not welcome.

The heading titled “Financial Pressure and Constraints” spoke for itself. It left all followers with a clear picture of where Dublin stands at present and what it needs to do for the future. To aid the drive forward the following was suggested:

  1. To develop the Dublin GAA brand as the leading sports brand in Ireland.
  2. To link with the ladies to achieve the above.
  3. Dublin County Board to appoint a professional brand and commercial team of up to four professional executives, comprising of a Brand and Commercial Director, Brand development manager, sponsorship and relationship manager and club commercial manager.

The above aims were encapsulated into the following aspiration: “To professionalise Dublin’s brand and commercial development focus to ensure that the revenue potential of Irelands leading sports brand is optimised”.

Note that they didn’t say the Irish soccer or rugby teams were the leading brands. Neither was Kerry or Tyrone either. The aim is for Dublin to rule the waves.

Towards the end they put down key performance targets. They are as follows.

  • Win a Senior All-Ireland every three years.
  • Win a Minor All-Ireland every three years.
  • Win an Under 21 All-Ireland every five years.

I could go on but there would be no point. Looking at the above, it’s a target that with a bit of luck and mental strength Mayo could have achieved between 1996-1999 and 2004-2007, in addition to adding in a National league and a club title for good measure but alas…

The Blue Wave document finishes with this quote: “What gets measured gets done”. They have their aptly-named blueprint and will drive forward. I am not exactly sure what we have. I live a long way from my river so I depend on the Western People and the web. Seemingly the liaison officer for the team reports to the county board and chairman. The liaison officer being the chairman…not the most streamlined system is it?

Looking through the deflated and forlorn Mayo Strategic Review that hit the rocks, I am amazed at the similar sentiments it expressed when compared to the Dublin one. I was heartened by the way Croke Park lent its muscle and support to the Blue Wave with introductions from all the top men in Croker prefacing the document. Alas the Mayo effort from the review committee was made to feel as welcome as a penguin in the desert.

To refresh the reader here are a few of the recommendations put forward in the ill-fated Mayo Review. Huge emphasis was made of our jersey, its iconic status and its ability to unite Mayo people everywhere across the globe. A commercial director was mooted. Take note – just one. Dublin feel the need for four. The Mayo GAA brand was to be treated in the same format as Dublin now intend to.

There was to be a Non-executive Advisory Group to be implemented. That might have aided communications instead of producing the debacle regarding the liaison officer. Finally, and this is where the gold lies, a world wide Mayo supporters’ club was mooted. This would have been inclusive, wide ranging and lucrative for the county and its teams.

Sometimes I despair for our county. James Laffey has written a wonderful book but it’s about a team who reached for the stars sixty years ago. Dublin wish to win Sam every three years and we wait for sixty long years and seem to have no coherent plan or ambition to match them. The annoying bit is that we give glimpses of how we might do if the shackles that hold us back were removed. Who holds those chains reader is up to you to decide upon. So whilst Dublin surf the Blue Wave I wonder on what road we now travel upon.

25 thoughts on “The road to where?

  1. Excellent piece which once again shows up our county officials for what they’re not doing & how against change they are. I’ve said it constantly before & am still saying it-until the Mayo dinosaurs are extinct & replaced with fresh, young, hungry blood we won’t be going far off or on the field.

  2. Super post Willie Joe – and you would have to despair at the small mindedness and amateurish ways of how we do our business. And instead of working together we turn on each other.

    Well said Nigel also.

    There are an awful lot of good people involved in Mayo GAA – who give their time freely all around Ireland, and around the world. What happens on the field is all they care about at the end of the day and how they contribute to making it happen.

    Change is needed – but who will stand up for that change.

    The big criticism of the review committee is that they played bad politics against seasoned politicians. We have seen how Mayo football was used as a political football between 2006 and 2010. Thankfully James Horan and the lads began a process of change. You have to believe James can push things on but until everything is right off the pitch that will become difficult because people will just be pulling against him.

  3. that’s ontheroads post cynthia but you are right it is very good indeed,

    the fact that dublin have created the plan is one thing but they are sure to carry it out unlike our own plan , that is an essential difference between strategy and planning , strategy actually gets carried out !

    as a previous poster said it would be a shame to see this affect what occurs on the pitch , also good performance on the pitch might mask the inherent faults in the running of the game in mayo…

    will be no loss if the current board are now sanctioned due to this mismanagement of the machale park development and that this brings about a better environment more conducive to the implementation of the mayo strategic plan,

  4. I live in Dublin and have two young dubs playing GAA here. The number of kids playing GAA in Dublin at the moment is phenomenal. If they can keep the numbers up and with serious rural depopulation now taking place they could very well become unstoppable.
    They could well have to split in Dublin South and North in the future.
    While it’s great for my young Dubs, it could become very bleak for all other counties.

  5. i just get the feeling that our county board havent a clue what to do now and all they will be hoping for is that the men on the pitch can win an all ireland or 2 and create some sort of illusion that all is good in the county again and top up the bank accouint a wee bit. Problem is it will take a lot more than 1 or 2 all irelands to keep the bank manager happy.

  6. As in all other aspects of life, political, economic, social and most importantly, sporting, I await the “reasonable revolution”. Why persist in an illogical situation when there are logical solutions?

    Let’s make it happen!

  7. While the existing county board have got everyone involved in the GAA in the county into one hell of a mess, and rightly people are calling for their heads. I just wonder, how many people here are willing to put their heads above the parapet and would be willing to put themselves forward for any of those roles. It’s easy to throw stones from outside, but would you be willing to go in and sort it out. Everything from the McHale Park debacle down to the smallest of squabbling between clubs.
    I don’t think I’d have the time and I wonder would many others be able too?

  8. Well penned ontheroad – I fully agree with you. Our County Board Chairman is quoted in the Mayo News as saying that in the next two weeks they must come up with a financial plan for the Ulster Bank with regard to paying off the loan. Absolutely breathtaking – – – they must have known the costs involved when taking on the McHale Park project – – what in God’s name have they been doing for the last couple of years. They resemble in many ways the last government – – – sitting on their hands, doing sweet damn all while in this instance the GAA coffers of the county slip further and further into debt. Like the rest of them our “permanent” secretary will also slip away quietly with a pension and probably give us a few lectures before he goes. Who will “bail” them out – you can be sure they will come back to the clubs looking for help and it will be the gobshite on the ground who will be asked to stump up again. One thing for sure is that the few matches that would get decent crowds in McHale Park will be rare enough and wont put much of a dent in the interest accruing on this loan. Yes, of course they need a “financial guru” with vision to plan future events to be held in the stadium.Maybe Micky Ring in his tourism brief might come up with some masterplan otherwise we might be seeing Chopra on the streets of Castlebar.

  9. i reckon ulster bank are the ones who need to come up with a plan , its not like they can forclose on machale park as it is practically unsellable in the current climate , they better get their thinking caps on , i presume they were presented with a business plan by the board originally and they rubberstamped it…

    i think the county board need to do what enda kenny has not done and negotiate a haircut !

  10. Article probably should be entitled “the road to nowhere”
    We might get lucky with James and his current crop and actually win Sam over the next couple of years, but if we do, with the way other counties are moving forward, we wont have a hope for another 60 years or so.
    People will fool themselves that all is well if our seniors are reasonably succesful over the next few years, but that will just be down to the current management setup and crop of players. It does not mean all is well as its clearly not. With emmigration and the clowns that are running the county setup we could end up in a doomsday 1975 to 85 type scenario of years in the wilderness as every other county steps up.

  11. Look we are we are and we need to start addressing the issues here instead of talking about doomsday.

    The fact that the county board went along with the drafting of a strategic plan for the county and then effectively massacred the draft was an exercise in gross negligence and stupidity.

    The recent information that has emerged on the finances of the board only serve to compound the problems facing the county set-up. Not one Mayo supporter I have spoken to has any faith in the current board. In fact the vast majority are irate at their recent actions.

    I’m sure many of the serving officials are doing so to the best of their ability and with the best of intentions. But this is patently not good enough.

    James Horan has swept the decks clear in the senior squad, added some fresh ideas and nouse to the set-up and generally added a new level of optimism and professional attitude.

    Can we do the same with the county board??

  12. Well it is up to the GAA clubs in this county to sort the mess out. They have allowed it to happen. Imagine only 7 people spoke at the last meeting when the full financial earthquake erupted. it is the same people asking the questions all the time. Some club delegates asked the same financial questions two years ago and got no answers. it took tow years to get an honest answer. and they are asking the clubs to give them the mandate for another year. Gaddafi did not even get another chance like this. clubs have to stand up at convention in two weeks time and refuse to elect the present board. None of them should be put back. Then the clubs can get together and sort it out. then it would be positive.

  13. The mayo london supporters held it’s first night in tommy moloneys pub the oxford arms in camden town last night, there was a decent attendance , james horan was there and also david heaney turned up as well as he is working in london at the minute. the mayo association dinner takes place tonight and they have sold about 480 tickets for it.

    Membership of the london mayo gaa supporters club is 100 pound for the year and they have guaranteed all ireland tickets for every member and also free entrance to all the league games .

    for myself the main thing i took from last night was the passion for mayo football that exists amongst all these exiles and the potential that this organisation has .

    funds will be “ring-fenced” and go solely to football development especially the underage county teams and the members were left in no doubt that they will not be contributing to the ulster bank repayment schedule.

    james horan is a gentleman , his few words were chosen well , on a purely selfish level i was disappointed to find he hasnt too many erris men on his radar but the overriding feeling is that mayo football is safe in his hands .

    i will keep the site updated on the developments of this supporters club

  14. Thanks Rogermilla, I’m living over in London but didn’t know anything about this.
    Where is the dinner tonight and do you know how I can get hold of tickets?
    I’m an Erris man myself and would love to see more from our way involved, but I can’t honestly think who is deserving at the minute. My knowledge of club football is limited enough, but from what I’ve heard we’re struggling at underage level as well in that part of the world.

  15. While I’m happy to see the that something is being done in London to get a supporters club up and going. I’m kinda shocked that for £100 you are getting a guaranteed All Ireland Final ticket. If the big numbers sign up to this, which I assume is the goal and we get to an an All Ireland final, it’s going to leave the County Board in a major pickle.

    I’m sure a lot of clubs in Mayo won’t be happy with the idea that for example if 500 people in London sign up and may not have been at a game all year there are 500 tickets guaranteed heading over the water to people who paid only £100.

    I would assume that these All Ireland final tickets will come out of the Co Boards allocation, where as the season ticket holders have to go to so many games in the year and those tickets come direct from Croke Park not the Co Board.

    Anyone who has been involved in a club when dividing out All Ireland final tickets to paid up club members know there is never enough to go around and this plan could make things even tougher.

    If a similar offer was put in place here it would get a huge subscription, but I think that for £100 the guarantee of an All Ireland Final ticket is offering way to much.

  16. Hi Dan , i would ring the oxford arms and ask for tommy and he would surely let you know about getting tickets, its being held somehere near st pauls , i have a feeling it might actually be sold out , wont be there myself as i knew nothing about it , will make an appearance next year for sure,

  17. Hi Nooneshoutedstop , i believe membership at this 100 pound level is limited to 300 and there will be a cheaper associate membership sorted out for those who do not wish to avail of the chance to get the ticket.

    personally being involved in the GAA i can always get final tickets, i paid the 100 last night as a contribution to the mayo players and not for the chance of a ticket , needless to say when we get to the final an extra allocation wont go astray !

  18. I’m all for putting money back into the players fund Roger, but I still think even at a limit of 300 people guaranteed a All Ireland Final ticket for £100 is short sighted and will craw at people who have bought County Board tickets for years with no such guarantee, and even those who buy season tickets and have to go to all the games to make sure they deff have an All Ireland Final ticket.
    I’m delighted to read that you paid for the contribution to the players not the ticket, but as as you said the extra allocation won’t go astray come the hopeful All Ireland final day nothing wrong with that at all either.

  19. Thanks for posting that info on the London event, Roger. I had got word of it in advance but then completely forgot to put something up about it. Work can be a bitch at times.

    The membership side to it is interesting and I’m wondering how this squares with what I’ve been hearing about all existing tickets schemes being rolled into one single season ticket which would encompass other add-ons. Is this separate again or is it part of this move, I wonder? The All-Ireland ticket angle to it would suggest that it’s something else entirely.

  20. personally i think it might price out a lot of people and i voiced that concern last night but to be fair to the lads there they were taking all advice on board.

    there is potential in london to raise a lot of funds to support the mayo teams and last night felt like the start of something good.

  21. this membership seems like something else entirely williejoe , i think this was a concession from the county board to the fund raisers in london , i have no idea if Club Mayo Dublin have a similar deal.

  22. It’s great to see the positive feedback from the lads in London and as a fellow Erris Man I am delighted to see that they are flying the flag in London for Mayo and Erris!

    The real pity is that the County Board did not embrace the Recommendation to set up a Worldwide Mayo Supporters Club working from a common platform in terms of a website, offering, pricing and most importantly the expectation of what the Supporter will actually get and delivering on this promise.

    Imagine the power of a Worldwide Mayo Supporters Club Website. Think of the benefits to Mayo GAA and also to the actual supporters in terms of networking, job opportunities etc in these difficult times. Add in a link to this website to keep up with the News back home and this would be a powerful platform to fundraise from.

    Have a look at the Kildare Supporters Club and in particular the offering and pricing. By all accounts it is going very well.

  23. Well-now that the haze has cleared after Thanksgiving, I thought I’d add my 2 cents worth.

    First of all I would tell the Ulster Bank to go to hell. They have accountants and solicitors poring over every loan application that comes through the door. They have risk committees and independent directors watching over everyones shoulders. They made a business decision based on the facts and figures they were presented with and it looks like it may not work out for them. Too bad!!!!! Companies the world over make business decisions every day of the week-theres no guarantee ANY of them will work out.

    Question is, did someone (ie Croke Park) backstop or guarantee the loan. If they did then they are on the hook-hence the overtly aggressive tone from HQ.

    The biggest problem with this is that all future resources will go towards clearing the debt-monies will be diverted from the clubs and overall development of the game within the county. That puts us in a very tough spot to compete.

    Heres what I think we should do (in a perfect world). Set up a shell company, offer to buy McHale Park from Ulster Bank for $9M over a 3 year period. We find 30,000 people who will be willing to commit $100 per head for 3 years.

    Thats a weekends beer money for most supporters!!!!

    Give these $100 share certificates as Christmas presents, wedding presents, confirmation presents, 21st presents, anniversary presents-whatever.

    Get guys like Gilmore from IWAK on board-these guys know how to run a business. Have Kennedy call in a favor from Alex Ferguson and have United over for an exhibition match-$40 a ticket times 40,000 is $1.6M (minus expenses plus sponsorship would probably net out close to $1.5M)

    Great thing is that the shots would be called locally and we would not be hampered by parish pump politics. I live in Boston and the red Sox have had Professional Hockey, Professional Soccer and now Professional Rugby (London Irish rumour) games at Fenway Park.

  24. Good to highlight the Dublin Strategic Plan. From a Dublin point of view it is very achievable. They want to win an All Ireland Senior title every 3 years. With the way things went for them this year they could even revise that upwards. Interesting this 3 year cycle as they accept that the amount of effort that they put in this year can’t be repeated every year. I believe that they only had one rest day a week. If Mayo or any “ORDINARY” county want to achieve an All Ireland then you are talking about giving up the day job for the duration. From National League and right through the Championship the team would need to be training two to three times a day on average. Anything less is AMATEUR. No time to milk the cows but that should be sorted !

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