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Saturday 25 January 2020

Farrell faces big ask - but not as huge as Mayo

Dublin v Mayo - EirGrid GAA Football Under 21 All-Ireland Championship semi-final...16 April 2016; Dublin manager Dessie Farrell. Eirgrid GAA Football Under 21 All-Ireland Championship semi-final, Dublin v Mayo. O'Connor Park, Tullamore, Co. Offaly. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE...ABC
Dublin v Mayo - EirGrid GAA Football Under 21 All-Ireland Championship semi-final...16 April 2016; Dublin manager Dessie Farrell. Eirgrid GAA Football Under 21 All-Ireland Championship semi-final, Dublin v Mayo. O'Connor Park, Tullamore, Co. Offaly. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE...ABC

WHO has the bigger shoes to fill - Dessie Farrell or Liam Moffatt?

Good question, but the answer is obvious: next year's All-Ireland is a minimum requirement or else many naysayers will automatically declare Farrell a failure.

That's what happens when you succeed such a successful manager. Jim Gavin is Sir Alex in an O'Neills top; the key for Farrell is to make sure he doesn't morph into David Moyes.

By contrast, the Mayo GAA chair vacated by Mike Connelly on Sunday does not carry the same 'big shoe' connotations for Moffatt to fill.

Connelly's five-year tenure may have threatened Sam Maguire more than once, but it was mired in far too much off-field discord - even before Tim O'Leary and Mayo GAA became 'google' bedfellows - to deem it anything remotely akin to a success.

Against that backdrop, you may argue Moffatt is facing a far easier job than Farrell as 2020 looms into view.

We beg to differ.

The last thing Dublin GAA wanted, on the last day of November, was to be told it needs to replace its most decorated manager in history.

But the response has been telling. Within 12 days, Farrell's appointment was signed, sealed and delivered.

Whereas the former Dublin minor and U21 manager may have been the logical choice, his elevation was not a shoo-in and Declan Darcy emerged as a genuine candidate.

But there was, to quote the Boris who is not from Ossory, "no dither and no delay". John Costello & Co acted promptly, all of which means that while Farrell won't have much time to bed in before the league starts, he will inherit a pool of untold playing riches. It helps, of course, that there are so much riches flowing through the Dublin coffers. Last week's annual accounts revealed a staggering increase in commercial revenues - up from €1.55m in 2018 to €2.35m in 2019.

And it doesn't help Mayo's attempts to bridge the on-field gap that their precarious finances (and lots more tittle-tattle besides) have been plastered all over the media for several months.

The divisive row between the old Mayo executive and the Mayo GAA International Supporters Foundation has been a front and back-page PR disaster for the county.

The hope is that the election of Moffatt (a member of the outgoing board, but not seen as an insider) will signal a fresh start and ultimately resolve the ongoing impasse.

Mayo need that to happen because, unlike Dublin, their finances are badly compromised by that noose-like MacHale Park debt.

And unlike Farrell and the squad he inherits, they face massive on-field challenges in the wake of last August's latest defeat to Dublin.

To even dream of reversing that ten-point trimming, they must be foot-perfect off the field as well as on it.

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