Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Love thy neighbour

Imagine the scene if you will. It’s full-time and Dublin have just beaten Meath in Leinster in front of a capacity crowd at Croker. A beaming Colm Coyle, in his blue Bainisteoir outfit, is accepting all manner of congratulations from the similarly blue-clad hordes for masterminding the defeat of the Dubs' arch rivals as thousands of his own county men stream out of the stadium dejectedly muttering to themselves. Or how about this? Jack O’Connor accepting similar plaudits having guided Cork to victory in the Munster championship over the county that is so often their nemesis, his native Kerry.

Of course you can’t imagine it, because it wouldn’t ever happen. But it does in Connacht and we’re the ones to feel the brunt of such managerial inter-marriage. There was an interesting article in the Sunday Tribune last weekend about the three main buck cats in football management in Connacht, all of them Mayomen. While they have all (and one of them is doing so again) put their shoulder to the wheel in the cause of advancing Mayo’s championship hopes, all three of them have also devoted considerable time and effort in doing the same job for our near neighbours.

I have to say that I’m with the Spailpín on this one – all those ambitious Mayomen who fancy a crack at management beyond the county boundaries should key into their satnavs a few destinations that are a bit further than down the road that those poor, benighted counties immediately adjacent to us. At least John Maughan had the good grace to try his luck (with spectacular results, as it happened) in Clare and then later in Fermanagh before eventually, after a second stint with us, breaking bread with the Sheepstealers. Peter Ford, or indeed Johnno himself, have no such excuses for engaging in an exercise commonly known as, ahem, shitting on one’s own doorstep.


An Spailpín said...

Hi Willie Joe,

In fairness to both Johnno and Peter Ford, they only went to Galway after the Mayo County Board made it quite clear that they wanted nothing to do with either of them. The long-running dispute with Johnno, a man the Board always thought too big for his damned boots, is well known. Peter Ford has never been forgiven for the mutiny in 1992, despite his own efforts to apologise for it (I seem to remember him sounding very contrite in an interview in the Irish Times last year). As I recall, the Board couldn't even find Ford's number after John Maughan stepped down in 1999. So, even though both men's defections haven't done us as a county any good, I can perfectly understand why they'd want to go. If I'd had my chain tugged the way both Johnno and Peter Ford have had theirs by the Board, I'd want to soften the Board's cough too.

Willie Joe said...

That's true but by seeking revenge on the county board, they end up taking out all the rest of us as well. I guess what bugs me in all this is the aspect of the conditional loyalty involved. I think the Tribune reported that Ford would "love" to manage Mayo one day but, until that fine day arrives, he'll be more than happy, one assumes, to spend his time advancing the cause of the Tribesmen while seeking to frustrate our own ambitions.

Dr. Hyde said...

Couple of points:

Before any Mayoman managed Galway or Ros, Mayo had Galwayman Liam O'Neill manage them.

Mayo enjoy the benefits of young men who grew up supporting and are from Roscommon - players like Noel Durkin, Andy Moran and Pierce Hanley. Can you imagine how Roscommon people feel about this great injustice.

Willie Joe said...

Point taken, Dr H, but I think (correct me if I'm wrong) that Liam O'Neill had settled in Mayo before he threw his lot in with us. We also got, and continue to enjoy, the services of his All-Star offspring, Kevin so the O'Neill conversion to the cause was a total one.

The Ballaghdereen situation is a historical curiosity, the roots of which escape me now but you're right that it's one that has been of considerable benefit to us down the years.

yer bro said...

Ballaghadereen was in Co Mayo until 1899, when it ws transferred to Co Roscommon as a result of the Local Government (Ireland) Act of 1898. The GAA club didnt follow suit, and remained loyal to Mayo.

Willie Joe said...

Thanks for that, bro. I think I read somewhere about the reason for that legislative change (I have a biography of John Dillon on the shelves and I have an inkling that it might be there) but I can't at the moment recall what it was.