Kevin McStay back in the hot seat

Kevin McStay insists he “had enough” of being an analyst for The Sunday Game and is happier to have worked his way back into the inter-county scene.
Kevin McStay back in the hot seat

McStay feared he had missed out on managing at the top level before Roscommon GAA chiefs offered him the chance to lead the county alongside Fergal O’Donnell.

The former Mayo forward admitted he is happy to have stepped away from his media work for a variety of reasons, including the negative impact of social media.

“At the end, I had enough of it. I just find the whole analysts talking about what the analyst said on the Sunday (Game) and the whole social media side of it — if you say the wrong stat on the show or give the wrong name of somebody, it’s an issue,” said McStay.

“I don’t miss it personally, I just find it was getting harder and harder. Players don’t want any criticism, the managers don’t want any criticism, some managers are talking to you, and some aren’t. That is taking it way too seriously.”

While McStay was thrilled to fulfil a long-term goal of returning to the inter-county scene, the former All-Ireland club-winning manager with St Brigid’s concedes that being in charge of a Division 1 team in a provincial final brings huge pressures.

“Different is the word. There is very little enjoyment in it, you are fighting all the time to see can you... the opposition at this level is so different.

“In Division 3 or 4 it is so much more comfortable. And the lads would have said this, it’s more comfortable, you can tip away nicely. There is no one looking at anything in too much depth. Up in Division 1, even in a league match now, you get killed. It’s very challenging, every week is very challenging.

“It’s my first time ever to manage at this level. Fergal is more experienced that I am, and Liam [McHale] is as well. It’s a big learning curve, there is no doubt about that.

“We are moving in the right direction. The Connacht final accelerates all that for us. If we can pull this off we’re a different team in the league 2017. We can plan to be a proper senior team, a serious competitor with anyone at that stage.”

Sunday’s decider against Galway may be McStay’s maiden Connacht final as a manager, but in his playing days he took winner’s medals in 1985 and ’89.

But his first provincial final will always stick in the memory — and it ended in defeat to Galway.

“That’s a very interesting first Connacht final for me. I had never trained with Mayo; I had never played with Mayo; I knew nobody in Mayo football — and the first game I ever played was the Connacht final in 1983.

“I was a cadet in the army, I was getting my haircut one night and the barber said: ‘One of your lads is playing for Mayo’, it was on the back of the Evening Press. I said: ‘Actually that’s me’. It was a huge surprise to me.

“Then the Friday night someone rang the school for me to get me released for the final. I’d never met them and I didn’t know who the players were. Imagine that happening now.”

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