Kevin McStay ready for new role as Roscommon manager

Mayo native leads a new management team with Fergal O’Donnell and Liam McHale

One of the worst kept secrets in GAA this summer has finally been confirmed, well almost - Kevin McStay is set to be ratified as the new joint-Roscommon manager early next week.

The Mayo native who led St Brigid’s to the All-Ireland club title two years ago will be joined by his right hand man upon that venture; Liam McHale - as well as former All-Ireland minor winning manager Fergal O’Donnell with whom he will share managerial responsibilities.

Making up the remainder of the now former RTE pundit’s management team is David Casey, a former play who was previously involved in Nigel Dineen’s successful Under-21 set-ups and managed club side St Croans to an intermediate county title last summer - as well as Stephen Bohan who was involved with the minor winning team of 2006.

McStay and O’Donnell replace outgoing manager John Evans who stepped down prior to a vote on the continuation of his role last month - the Kerry native claimed there had been active canvassing for his replacement, which ultimately forced his hand.

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While Roscommon earned consecutive league promotions under Evans, championship defeats to Sligo and Fermanagh ended the season in disappointment.

“There is certainly no expectation in terms of this team currently because we are literally on the floor after the championship,” the former All Star forward (McStay) told The Irish Times.

“We took a big, big hit in the championship after a very good league campaign - so the focus is going to be on re-establishing our pedigree and reputation as a championship team - and everything we do is going to be in that direction.

“Obviously we are in division one - but that’s where this group of players have wanted to get into and we are not for a moment being naive about the challenge ahead of us - but we are going to give it a fantastic cut, with eyes on May all of the time.”

McStay will undergo his official interview on Monday night, but as the only candidate for the role it’s understood that his name will be brought forward by the county board for ratification in the next 24 hours - with the clubs then having the final say early next week. It’s expected that the new look management team will ease their way through a vote.

But what can they offer that was so dearly missing during recent months?

“We are looking to bring them on again - they are at a certain level - they have just knocked down the door to division one - so they are at a new level already and we have to get used to that level as that’s where we want to be - so we’ll need to get used to it. But this is all championship and we want to get a nice tight group together that we can trust and they can trust us.

“We are going to attempt to do a lot of coaching, a lot of detail about what systems we want to use - our method of play and getting everyone comfortable with that.

“Then obviously we want to get a very high engagement in terms of their conditioning, their attitude and their enthusiasm to play for Roscommon - that’s going to be a huge part of it. Their desire to wear the jersey and want to play for their county and that’ll probably be more important than anything we can do. If I see that, and Fergal sees that, then we have a great chance of doing well.”

Plans are already in place for AIT to be the team’s new training base - a perfect location given the number of Dublin based players involved, with the available facilities a necessity given the county’s new division one status, and the lack of a current county training grounds within Roscommon.

Having already said his goodbyes to RTE last weekend McStay is eager to get the ball moving in his first inter county senior management position.

“We’re limited by the Croke Park rulings early on - but we can have trial games and a development panel - but that suits us perfectly because we know the senior members, we have seen them the last few years. It’s more so the younger groups and maybe some of the players who haven’t been part of the panel for the last while, and we feel there are a few out there who can reinvent themselves or have another go at being a serious county player.

“We think there are are a handful of players out there who can certainly make a contribution but we will have to talk with them to see if they’re interested - we will put it to them, and we are confident that they will.

“I’m very comfortable and confident with the set up we have in place now and really looking forward to it.”

It’s believed that the new set-up will be given a three year term.

Meanwhile Galway have ratified the re-appointment of Anthony Cunningham as senior hurling manager for a fifth year. Cunningham became the first manager since Cyril Farrell to take the county to two All-Ireland finals earlier this month when the county was defeated by Kilkenny.

The county committee also ratified the re-appointment of football manager Kevin Walsh and Jeffrey Lynskey who took the county to minor hurling All-Ireland success three weeks ago.

Elsewhere Kerry’s Eamonn Fitzmaurice was ratified for a fourth year by the county committee. His intention to stay on had been announced last week in the wake of the All-Ireland final defeat by Dublin.

Jack O’Connor and his selectors, who have just completed back-to-back All-Ireland minor titles, were ratified as next year’s under-21 management.

Eamon Donoghue

Eamon Donoghue

Eamon Donoghue is a former Irish Times journalist