Niall Heffernan steps down from U21 role

The timing is probably a bit odd, coming as it does a few days before the seniors take the field for the first time in this year’s Connacht championship and close to three months since the U21s made their exit from the championship at the provincial semi-final stage, but it was announced earlier on today that the county’s U21 manager for the last two years, Niall Heffernan, has decided not to let his name go forward for reappointment in the post. A rather lengthy statement has been released by the County Board confirming this news – here.

As the Board says in its statement, despite all the hard work put in by Niall and his backroom team over the past two years, the U21s didn’t get the results everyone would have hoped for at this level during his time in charge. There seemed to be plenty done in terms of prep, with the county taking part in the Hastings Cup for the last two years and a fair few challenge games lined up in the lead-in to the championship but it was all to no avail as our long barren spell at this level – which stretches back all the way to when the current senior management team were at the reins at U21 – continued unabated.

The County Board now needs to take a step back and have a right think about what kind of management team is needed to reinvigorate us at U21 level. Next year should see several of the lads from the All-Ireland minor winning team from 2013 coming to the fore at U21 level and so 2016 has to be earmarked as one where we should be aiming to make a long overdue breakthrough at a level that’s been a happy hunting ground in the past for the county. The first step on this road, surely, has to be the appointment of a heavy-hitter as the new U21 manager. I wonder would Stephen Rochford still be interested in taking this on?

20 thoughts on “Niall Heffernan steps down from U21 role

  1. When better to release news of a failed enterprise than when all eyes are on the bigger prize.

    The County Board will leave this appointment on the long finger. A manger can only be looking to work with players and invest time and money on getting a team together and this costs money.

    The fact that there is a vacancy and that the Board appointed a poor set-up again at this level gets ignored.

    Whoever writes those statements is as cute as a fox

  2. Totally agree WJ.The County Board should be going after someone like Rochford.Maybe this is the ideal time to bring James Horan back in,who better to develop our future stars

  3. Mayo Chairman should certainly be talking to Stephen Rochford at the earliest opportunity but if he is staying with Corofin – and I hav’nt heard that he is not – he may not be available esp. if the win Connacht again next year. I have already mentioned the possibility that Galway could pick him from under our noses. There are only so many snubs a man can take before turning his eyes elsewhere. In any case it is unlikely that an appointment will be made before the 2015 Club campaigns are concluded.
    I do not know what Niall Heffernan’s coaching credentials were before he took on the Mayo U21 job but I would not criticise him for taking it on. There are too many out there who will take no responsibility whatever to be criticising someone who will. Regards the timing of this decision, once Niall Heffernan had made his decision there was no point in delaying the announcement and ascribing motives for the timing is a bit of nonsense.

  4. I’d like to see the current minor management team stepping in here after this season, though that may well depend on how they progress this year (I have a feeling they’ll do well).

    I reckon Stephen Rochford, having previously been rejected for this job may well have bigger fish to fry at this point, though he would be a great appointment. One to watch and a very juicy role to take on.

  5. Reading last weeks Mayo News the Current Minor Management are certainly under scrutiny over their training techniques. They have had a number of meetings with Dr. Sean Moffatt and Liam Moffatt “as regards injuries”. Their training programmes have been very much adjusted according to Bord Na Nog chairman Seamus Tuohy.

    This would tend to suggest that something was amiss.

  6. Current minor management are the most likely to take over the U21s. Stephen Rochford will be looking to win a few more trophies with Corofin before he leaves that gig.

  7. To be fair to the current minor management, they have delivered what was a rare enough underage all ireland title for Mayo. 2 in 30 years??

    I think that earns them a crack at the u-21 team if they want it.

  8. Yeah our current minor management would deserve a crack at the U21 grade alright, they should have a very good idea of the available talent out there at this level. Getting Stephen Rochford involved with our minors then would be great to see.

  9. Stephen Rochford will be taking the Senior gig when the time is right, this mightr be sooner than we think!

  10. A very odd time to release this statement surely next Tuesday or Wednesday would have being better or a few weeks ago.surely this decision wasn’t made just this week! It’s a major decision who to put in charge at this age level.we have failed miserably since 2009 .obvious candidates are current minor management team also stephen rochford who is still in charge of corofin and also james horan.maybe Horan after a year out would be keen to get back into management at some level.anyways it’s a huge decision for county board to make as under 21 manager can be seen as a progressive step to senior management.we now need to be competitive at under 21 level as we have being at minor level and this is where the problem has being and needs to be solved.anyways it’s the senior team that are out this weekend (thank god) waiting to long for that championship feeling.lets hope for a good year and plenty of support in galway on Sunday .Maigh Eo Abu

  11. Memo to Mike Connelly: get on the blower NOW to Rochy.

    Use the same approach (methodology!) that was used to land Pat and Noel: right candidate; need to move quickly; no time to follow procedures; essential to get the right man, etc, etc.

    Memo to Rochy: you have the 2013 minors coming on stream, and the 2014 lot weren’t bad either. What’s not to like? Get in there quick.

  12. It amazes me that some people consider the manager of the Club championship so highly when considering a suitable manager for a senior intercounty team. It really is a comparison between chalk and cheese IMO. I do not have a problem with Colm R. We did not see a clammer for Tommy Lyons to take over the Mayo job when his team was successful at this grade. I would hate to see Enda move from the Minor setup. He has been so successful at this grade that I fear a return to the mediocrity we knew before he took charge at this grade. That’s not to say he does not deserve a crack at U21 sometime in the future of course.

  13. James horan would be ideal, he’d command great respect and it wouldn’t eat up all his time all year round. Either way there’s a bunch of really good ex and current minors coming through that are very capable of delivering the goods. Someone could make a name for himself if he could organise the talent that’s there to be organised.

  14. I’d like to see Horan get the minors… He command enormous respect from kids that would have grown up thinking his guy is a legend.

    Give Enda a crack at the u21’s. He has the element of trust there with the minors from 13/14. He had won with them and after the utter shambles that was the u21 set up for the past two years one would imagine morale is at rock bottom. A new untried face might not have the same effect on these guys whereas if gilvarry takes over these young players will believe they can win the u21 all Ireland.

    U 21 is a crucial stepping stone for most senior inter county players unless your a hugely special talent like Cillian who can bypass it straight to senior. Most need it to develop.

    Our senior dominance the last few years was built in the platform of u21 all Ireland finalist of 2004 and u21 all Ireland winners in 06.

    We’ve don’t f@ck all at u21 in years. In fact Mayo haven’t been in an u21 final in a decade now…I repeat, a decade! That’s the longest our county has gone since the u21 championship was founded without making it to the last two.

    As many have said before, our recent senior success has papered over many cracks.

    The underage management selections are crucial.

  15. Club success does not always equate with inter-county. Rochford did a great job with Corofin, but he also took over a team that were considered to be in the top four/five in country already. And was caught badly by a ok, but not great Castlebar team the previous year, managed by none other than Holmes. He would be a good appointment no doubt, but it’s probably a dead cert the minor management will get it if they want it and have earned the right to have a go. Don’t be surprised to see another former Mayo manager put his hand up for minor job if it comes up

  16. The senior set up impacted on U21s I feel. Seemed subsumed to what senior manager wanted. Davy Fitz let Clare’s U21s play All Ireland final two weeks before senior AIF replay. Didn’t affect them and they won the double. Faint hearts and fair women spring to mind .

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