McStay and Holmes front-runners to replace Horan

Mayo will not look outside the county for James Horan’s successor — but favourite Kevin McStay faces strong opposition from Pat Holmes for the position.

McStay and Holmes front-runners  to replace  Horan

McStay put his cards on the table on The Sunday Game when he said he would like to be at least considered for the role. “I hope I might have the respect of the Mayo GAA public, at least I might get a phone call.”

Having led St Brigid’s to an All-Ireland title last year with Liam McHale as coach, McStay’s credentials are obvious and his ticket would again feature his brother-in-law, who served as a Mayo selector under John Maughan in the 2000s.

However, former Mayo manager Holmes is considered a significant candidate for the role. Westport-based Holmes guided Castlebar Mitchels to a surprise All-Ireland club final earlier this year. Along with Ray Connelly, he won four Connacht titles and an All-Ireland club crown between 2005 and 2009.

Connelly may again be factored in as a part of Holmes’ set-up. His brother Mike is the current vice-chairman of the board. It’s also understood minor manager Enda Gilvary’s name has been mentioned in dispatches.

John Maughan has privately refused to rule out a third term as Mayo manager, having been in charge at periods in the last two decades.

Resources may also be a sticking point for Horan’s replacement as the board intends cutting overheads, and while Mayo’s older players will bide their time before making career announcements, Kenneth O’Malley and Richie Feeney are unlikely to be available to the new Mayo manager in 2015 due to other commitments.

Meanwhile, the indications are outgoing Mayo selector Donie Buckley is set to join Kerry’s U21 management set-up next season. The Castleisland native is strongly fancied to team up with manager Darragh Ó Sé and newly-appointed selector Seamus Moynihan.

Buckley worked with Kerry’s seniors under Jack O’Connor in 2011 and Limerick for five seasons with Mickey Ned O’Sullivan. The Castleisland native, who lives in Ennis, also assisted Kerry and Munster senior club champions Dr Crokes last season.

Were Buckley to return to his own county, it would mean Mayo have lost two coaches to Kerry in the last three years, Cian O’Neill having made the switch to join Eamonn Fitzmaurice after Mayo’s 2012 All-Ireland final defeat to Donegal.

The replay win over Mayo on Saturday means O’Neill is now preparing a team for an All-Ireland for the fifth time in six years, having trained Tipperary’s hurlers to the 2009, 2010 and 2011 deciders, followed by Mayo’s football appearance in 2012.

GAA officials have also insisted Aidan O’Shea returned to the pitch in Saturday’s second half in Limerick as a blood sub. It had been said by Mayo sources that O’Shea only came back on as a full substitute. However, Croke Park have counter-claimed that O’Shea wasn’t allowed on as his cut, suffered in first-half injury-time, had started to bleed again at the start of the second half. O’Shea’s subsequent return for Michael Conroy was recorded by the fourth official as a blood sub.

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