It’s been a busy few days within the county and across the country as a whole. Busy here too so while I’ve had time to see and think about the recent Mayo GAA-related announcements, I’ve had little time to sit down and pen a piece about them. I haven’t long now either, to be honest, so there are a few quick observations.
The news about the new training centre can only be seen as a welcome development. New training pitches within the county are urgently needed, so are better facilities for ladies teams and for underage teams. The fact that it’s a multi-purpose development, being put in place in collaboration with Mayo County Council, is both sensible and prudent.
Questions have been asked here about how the centre will be financed. Obviously a sustainable plan in that regard needs to be agreed between Mayo GAA and the County Council. A project of this kind clearly has a major capex component and it’ll be important that all elements of the plan for raising the necessary cash and how it’s spent are sorted out and then adhered to.
It’ll be a while, of course, before the new pitches are available for use, which will mean that, in the short-term, the pressure on existing facilities, in particular MacHale Park, isn’t going to ease anytime soon. Anyone who has been to MacHale Park in recent months knows full well that there’s work to be done there too and hopefully the new development will provide the necessary breathing space for this to happen. Before then, though, it’s likely to be a case of muddling through as best we can with the various pitches at our disposal.
It’s on those pitches where Stephen Rochford’s decision – story in the Mayo News here – to nominate Peter Forde and Shane Conway to join Joe Keane as selectors on his management team will stand or fall. Assuming the two new appointments are confirmed by the County Board in the coming days, these are the men who will be on the sideline for us next year.
I get the underwhelming reaction to this news. I guess everyone was expecting more high-profile names to be revealed but these are the guys Stephen wants and, assuming the appointments are approved, these are the guys he’s going to get.
Stephen’s previous management team brought us millimetres away from All-Ireland glory, not once but twice, playing an often exhilarating brand of football. But it was also a management team that presided over three straight losses in Connacht to a moderate enough Galway team and that was in charge for what was, by any measure, a complete car-crash season for us at senior inter-county level this year.
What will the new men bring that the departing trio didn’t? (You could, I guess, turn the question around and ask: What did the outgoing backroom team bring that the new team might not?) I’m not qualified to answer the question, regardless of how it’s framed, but you’d have to hope that areas where we’ve struggled over the last few years, such as bringing through new players in a coherent way and in-game tactics, including substitutions, might be ones that the revamped management team will, well, manage a bit better.
At the end of the day, though, it’s Stephen’s call who he wants to work with. As supporters, the best thing we can do is wish Peter and Shane all the best in their new roles and get behind the collective efforts of management and players as they aim for glory once more in 2019.
Glory at underage level was achieved yesterday by the county’s U16 hurlers. They beat Donegal up in Ballyshannon by 1-10 to 0-11 to claim the U16B All-Ireland title. A piece detailing their campaign, including yesterday’s final, is here. Well done to them.
Finally, commiserations to the county’s U16 camogie team who were also in All-Ireland final action yesterday. They lost out to a strong Carlow team in the U16C decider, going down in Banagher by 3-11 to 0-8. Hard luck to them.