Former Roscommon manager Kevin McStay has revealed he had to pay for the team’s hotel bills and players’ gym membership during his time in charge.
McStay was later recompensed by the county board but in his autobiography The Pressure Game, launched in his native Ballina last night, the former Mayo forward highlighted the awkward financial situation which Roscommon found themselves in.
Recalling an event at a hotel outside Omagh after losing their 2017 Division 1 opener against Tyrone, McStay writes: “I was sitting on the bus when Seán (Finnegan, Roscommon logistics manager) told me there was a problem with the hotel. They were not happy. The county board credit card was unable to cover the full costs of our stay, and the hotel was not at all interested in waving the Roscommon team off and waiting for payment a week or two later! A few months down the road, as we were leaving Fota Island in Co Cork after a long training weekend, Seán came to me a second time.
“I was able to cover both bills, and the team was able to depart, but only because of the gratuity I had received after retiring from the army. I had money there in case someone in my family got sick, or there was an emergency.
“Being manager of Roscommon, however, meant that that the county team was family. On a number of occasions, I also bought year-long gym membership for some of the players because the board did not have access to money on a particular week.
“Things like this, like purchasing extra tickets for players, for instance, were a recurring theme during my three years.”
McStay also opens up about how his family were impacted by Gay Sheerin’s criticism of him on local radio after losing to Mayo in Round 3 of their 2017 Division 1 League campaign — the team’s third consecutive loss.
It followed the decision by Fergie O’Donnell to step away as joint manager the previous September and former Roscommon goalkeeper Sheerin questioned McStay’s loyalty to his adopted county when he had “hated” Roscommon as a player.
“I knew that I could never become a Roscommon man, but I had lived in the county for 30 years,” McStay states.
“My daughters were born and reared as Roscommon girls. My wife (Verona) and daughters were upset for me. I was angry that they were so upset.
“I felt that on the street, people who might never have looked at me twice were staring. I knew people were talking about me, and not talking about me and the team and our performances. That was wrong. And I kept reminding myself of my father’s advice to me when I first moved to Roscommon. He told me to make the new town my ‘home’. That was his word.”
McStay never considered resigning, but feared he could be removed from the position when a number of clubs began to ask “pointless” questions fuelled by Sheerin’s comments. Another defeat to Kerry followed, Roscommon were relegated and the pressure increased on McStay, but he stood defiant and led the county to a Connacht title that summer.
McStay and Sheerin ironed out their issues last year. “In time, I’d make my peace with Gay. Nobody had died. And I was happy to put the whole sorry episode behind me.
“Though I did not make that peace until over a year later. I was still too sore with him. He had put me through the wringer, and then a lot of other people tried their best to keep me in there.”