By Ger Flanagan
Former All-Ireland U21 winning manager Mike Solan believes he — and his proposed management team — can ‘add value’ to Mayo football.
The Ballaghaderreen native, who guided Mayo to All-Ireland U21 success in 2016 and the Mayo U20s to the All-Ireland final in 2018, was officially nominated (along with James Horan) by his home GAA club before last Wednesday’s deadline.
Interviews with the two candidates are set to commence in the coming weeks.
“We felt, with the management team that we have put together, and with the people we have getting involved, that we could add value to Mayo football in general,” the 36-year-old said.
“As a group we have worked with a lot of the lads over the last four years and that level of familiarity as those lads try to make the transition into the senior team would make things a bit smoother for everybody involved.
“With the experienced guys on the squad there is a huge depth of talent in the playing squad and a huge depth of talent in the younger guys who are coming behind them as well.
“So it’s an exciting time for Mayo football.”
Solan’s backroom team includes Enda McGinley, a three-time All-Ireland winner with Tyrone; former Cork and Offaly football coach Billy Sheehan, a native of Kerry who played inter-county football with Laois, as ‘field coach’; and John Ginty from Ballaghaderreen, who has worked with Solan for the last three years with the Mayo sides.
Solan also revealed that a former Mayo senior footballer is ‘in the final stages’ of being confirmed to join his backroom team, while there is also ‘another experienced coach lined up’ to train the Dublin based Mayo players.
“As a player, Enda won three All-Irelands under Mickey Harte and in his career he would have been a highly adaptable and intelligent player,” he said.
“We would have spoken a lot over the last few weeks and he would be a fella that very much aligns in the way we want to play football and do things.
“Billy Sheehan… would be coming on board as our field coach. John Ginty would have done an awful lot of work on the psychological side of things with the younger guys and the progress they have made on those side of things is clear to see.”
However, Solan refused to be drawn on the idea at this stage of working with the other candidate, James Horan, saying: “I’m fully focused on our own management team and the work we have done to get to this point.”