Monday, 28 June 2010 14:34
An earlier than expected end to Mayo's involvement in the championship brought the almost inevitable news that John O'Mahony resigned after four seasons in charge.
He must have had his mind made up from an early stage that this was going to be his last season, as he never appeared to be the type of man to make rash decisions. But he would hardly have expected to have to announce his departure on a Saturday evening in June in a dressing room in Longford.
It was a real shame that it ended like this but it seems to be the way in Gaelic football. Reaching a league final appears to count for nothing when you're not playing championship football in July.
But that's life and no one knew this as well as John O'Mahony. A lifetime in the game has taught him those valuable lessons.
Now the search will commence for the next manager. In the view of this column, a new manager should not be top of the priority list now. Would there not be some merit in getting people from outside of the county board to carry out a root and branch analysis of how the game is structured here? Not everything is wrong but no one can say that everything is right either.
A new manager will not resolve all of the ails surrounding the game in Mayo and if the decision-makers think otherwise then they will find themselves in the same position they are in this morning in another couple of years time.
A county that can reach two All-Ireland finals in a decade should not find itself struggling like Mayo is at the moment but because the proper foundations are not in place, then this is exactly what happens.
The system that produces senior inter-county players needs examining and restructuring. Schools of Excellence? The name in itself is all wrong.
If you're going to tell a young player of 14 or 15 that he's excellent then what incentive will he have to improve himself as he grows older? Inter-county players of any age group are put on a pedestal in this county and simply hyped to a ridiculous extent.
It's ridiculous seeing underage players making medal presentations at club functions around the county solely because they are part of a county squad.
Underage squad selection? A friend reckons if you're not related to the right county board official or divisional board official your chances of selection on an underage team are lessened significantly.
I always thought he was mad when he said this but maybe there's a grain of sense in what he says. Of course, it's an exaggerated version of the reality of what happens but there's no denying that it helps to know someone.
Finally, and most importantly, the new broom needs to dump the existing coaching manual and produce a programme that will allow players arrive at senior level with the ability to do the most basic things properly. No one can convince me that is the case now.
Maradona still a class apart
When it comes to underachievement, though, Mayo is in the h'penny place compared to the English soccer team.
For the umpteenth competition in succession, their best players are taught a lesson in how to play tournament football. Their travails must bewilder their supporters and their management teams. After all, the same players play at the very top level of European club football but they seem incapable of reproducing their club form for their country.
I don't believe for a moment it's because they are overpaid prima donnas; there has to be something deeper going on that's preventing them from doing well at major tournaments.
Most people were of the view that with Capello in charge, England would contend this time round and that his management would make the difference. It didn't and for whatever reasons, the manager came across as being indecisive and unable to get a grip on what was unravelling all around him.
Contrast Capello with Maradona, the so-called loose cannon of the managerial profession. Derided by all the experts as a clown who would have his failings exposed, Maradona has made them all eat their words.
His methods might be different but there's no denying that he has connected with his players and he's getting the reaction.
It's wonderful watching him and when Argentina score you can see just what it means to him. He really is a different class.