Kevin McStay appointed the new Mayo football manager

Backroom team includes former manager Stephen Rochford and Kerry coach Donie Buckley

Kevin McStay is the new manager of the Mayo footballers. The former Roscommon manager secured the support of county delegates on Monday night to take over his own county for a four-year term.

The process of replacing James Horan, who stepped down after the All-Ireland quarter-final defeat by Kerry, has been lengthy and very public with four separate candidates and their proposed management teams applying for the role.

Interviews and presentations took place on Saturday and the outcome remained a closely guarded secret all day Monday until the executive signed off on the appointment on Monday evening and recommended ratification.

McStay’s team includes former manager Stephen Rochford, who took Mayo as close as they had got to winning an All-Ireland, losing twice by a single point to Dublin, once after a replay and Kerry coach Donie Buckley, who worked with both Rochford and his predecessor James Horan.


Also involved is McStay’s brother-in-law Liam McHale, who previously worked with him during successes at Roscommon and St Brigid’s. who they led to Connacht and All-Ireland club titles, and Damien Mulligan, manager of Belmullet who got to last year’s county final as well as formerly of Breaffy.

McStay was an accomplished player with Mayo, winning Connacht titles and an All Star at corner forward. He has managed the county at under-21 level, also winning provincial honours.

A long-term resident in Roscommon, he managed county champions St Brigid’s to the 2013 All-Ireland club title and then on taking up the same position with the county, delivered a Connacht title in 2017.

He had broken off a successful career as a media pundit to take on the management responsibilities and must do so again, departing RTÉ where is a senior analyst on the ‘Sunday Game’ and this newspaper where he has been a popular and original columnist for the past five years.

The emphasis of his management team is very much on the collaborative with all members having a high profile except Mulligan whose profile is more local but whose achievements on the club scene in Mayo suggest that he may well have made his way to county management at some stage.

The intensely competitive nature of the tendering process — against Ray Dempsey, Mike Solan and Declan Shaw, all of whom had impressive back room teams organised — indicates how positive feelings within the county are towards the footballers’ prospects.

The season just gone was fatally undermined by injuries to the county’s two most promising forwards, Tommy Conroy and Ryan O’Donoghue.

At present, the playing stock is drawn from three generations, the oldest, which broke through with Horan in 2011, like Cillian O’Connor, Lee Keegan and Aidan O’Shea, a middle cohort, such as Stephen Coen, Patrick Durcan and Diarmuid O’Connor and finally the latest, including Conroy, O’Donoghue and Oisín Mullin.

The overall landscape is also much more competitively even with the decline of Dublin’s dominance and the rise of Tyrone and Kerry, neither of whom currently look likely to monopolise All-Irelands.

This season has however seen the re-emergence of Connacht rivals Galway and their progress to July’s All-Ireland final began with the defeat of Mayo.

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times