Wednesday 12 December 2018

Martin Breheny: Mayo should use long summer off to do some serious soul-searching

Mayo’s Diarmuid O’Connor. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Mayo’s Diarmuid O’Connor. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

The outpourings of goodwill towards the Mayo football squad may be offered in a spirit of generosity and respect, but they are coming across as mawkish and too sweet to be wholesome.

Indeed, the players must be uncomfortable by the tributes, not to mention their elevation to the rank of No 1 on the 'best team never to win an All-Ireland' list.

There can't be a more embarrassing 'honour' in sport than being regarded as the top runners-up. Besides, it's probably not even true in Mayo's case.

Cork (1975-'82) were a serious outfit but remained trapped under Kerry's thumb. Galway lost three All-Ireland finals in 1971, '73, '74 so they too would run Cork and Mayo close for a title no one wants.

Whether or not they are the best 'seconds' in history won't fit well with the Mayo squad, but having failed to make the All-Ireland breakthrough, it's how they will be assessed. Ultimately, they just weren't good enough to succeed where all their predecessors stretching back to 1951 had failed.

In fact, they weren't even Connacht champions for any of the last three seasons, which means they won no title since ruthlessly demanding - under threat of strike action - the removal of joint-managers, Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly after just one season in charge in 2015.

Effectively, they said they wouldn't win an All-Ireland under that regime, without explaining why. Three years later, the All-Ireland wait goes on, so Holmes and Connelly can hardly be blamed for that. Mayo are out of the championship earlier than at any time since 2010, leaving a long time for soul-searching.

It needs to be done.

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