Monday 16 September 2019

'If some egos are not checked, Mayo won't win an All-Ireland': Ousted joint managers break silence on player revolt

EXCLUSIVE

Former joint Mayo managers Pat Holmes, left, and Noel Connelly
Former joint Mayo managers Pat Holmes, left, and Noel Connelly
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Mayo’s All-Ireland famine will continue unless “some egos are checked and outside influences curbed”, according to Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly, the joint managers who were forced out by a controversial squad revolt after last year’s championship.

“Players have got to concentrate on playing football and being as ruthless as it takes to win. They’ve got to allow management to manage and keep outside influences away. If they don’t, it’s unlikely they will be successful. Mayo have been in ten All-Ireland finals since 1989 and won none. That won’t change until attitudes change,” they said.

In an exclusive 5,000-word interview with the Irish Independent, the ex-managers chart the 2015 season and the dramatic fall-out which followed the defeat by Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-final replay.

Read more: Revealed: The letter to the county board that tore Mayo apart 

Management were already beginning planning for 2016, only to be stunned by a revolt which left them with no option but to resign. They were replaced by Stephen Rochford.

They believe that a disproportionate amount of power is vested in a relatively small number of players.

“If a small group within the squad are allowed to dictate the way they tried when we were there, it’s not good for Mayo football.  If that situation is still there, the likelihood is that they will win nothing. That’s the bottom line as we see it.”

Explaining that they remained quiet all year on the circumstances which led to their departure after one season in charge so as not to “impact in any way on Mayo’s chances of winning the All-Ireland,” they say  that now is the time “time to speak out.”

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It comes 10 days after Mayo defender, Tom Cunniffe said in an Irish Independent interview that the squad were wrong to force a change of management.

Read more: 'We were unfair on managers' - Mayo star regrets player revolt

In a letter (carried in full in Saturday’s Irish Independent) to the Mayo county board, the squad threatened to strike unless management was replaced. A four-day deadline was given their removal and was accompanied by a demand that the squad be given equal representation with the Board on the committee charged with appointing their successor.

The pair pull no punches in their stark assessment of what went on last year and in their analysis of how attitudes need to change if this Mayo team is to be any different to the previous sides that failed to end the All-Ireland famine.

Read the explosive interview in full in Saturday's Irish Independent.

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