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Dublin: 8°C Sunday 25 October 2020

The 5 leading contenders to replace Holmes and Connelly as Mayo football boss

Here are the runners and riders.

FOLLWING THE  CONTROVERSIAL heave against former Mayo joint-managers Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly, who left after just one season in charge, county board chiefs are on the hunt for a new manager.

Here, we run the rule over the five leading contenders for the post….

1. Stephen Rochford

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

The odds on favourite to step into the breach.

As a player, Rochford won three Connacht senior football championship medals with Crossmolina and he’s now regarded as a highly ambitious, organised and above all, successful, coach.

A former Mayo minor captain, he went on to become a minor selector and worked with the Ballinrobe U21s and the GMIT Sigerson Cup team before becoming boss of Galway outfit Corofin.

Next Sunday, they aim to annex a third successive Galway SFC crown, in the final against Mountbellew-Moylough.

Rochford broke new ground last March when he became the first man to win an All-Ireland club medal (Crossmolina 2001) with one club before managing another (Corofin) to Andy Merrigan Cup glory.

2. James Horan

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Former playing star Horan was a revered character among the Mayo players when he was in charge for four seasons.

Under his tutelage, Mayo emerged as one of the most consistent intercounty teams in the country but fell in successive All-Ireland finals in 2012 and 2013.

Horan was at the helm for four years before announcing his decision to step down after last year’s semi-final replay defeat to Kerry.

Horan previously made his name in management with Ballintubber before accepting the county job and Mayo players may sound him out privately about any possible intentions to return.

The old saying is that you should never go back, however, and Horan has become heavily involved in punditry with a newspaper column, Newstalk and Sky Sports.

3. John Maughan

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Maughan has enjoyed two previous stints as Mayo senior boss and would be favoured by some to return for a third spell.

However, he has recently been nominated for the U21 post along with Mike Solan and Anthony McGarry, and this may muddy the waters somewhat.

That position is expected to be filled on 14 October, when the Mayo county board is scheduled to have its monthly meeting.

An announcement on a successor to Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly could also be revealed then.

Maughan led Mayo to three All-Ireland final appearances in 1996, 1997 and 2004 but the Westerners lost them all. He was also charge when Mayo were defeated by Armagh in the 2004 All-Ireland U21 decider.

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Maughan also managed Clare to a famous Munster SFC victory over Kerry way back in 1992 and his most recent intercounty post was with Roscommon, where he resigned in 2008.

4. Donie Buckley

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Buckley is renowned as one of the finest coaches in Gaelic Football and may now feel that it’s time to step into management.

The Castleisland man scored the winning goal for Desmonds in the 1985 All-Ireland club final but Buckley didn’t represent Kerry at senior intercounty level.

He found his niche in coaching in recent times, cutting his teeth in Clare before linking up with the Moycullen club in Galway, leading them to All-Ireland intermediate glory in 2008.

Buckley worked with former Limerick boss and fellow Kerry native Mickey Ned O’Sullivan for a number of years before joining the Kerry senior set-up in 2011.

After his role with the Kingdom, Buckley became a key player with Mayo during the James Horan era.

Buckley traded places with Cian O’Neill, who went to Kerry, and watching O’Neill accept the Kildare senior football post may have piqued Buckley’s interest in a management role.

5. Jim McGuinness

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

McGuinness was the man who masterminded defeat for Mayo in the 2012 All-Ireland final, as manager of Donegal.

A tactically astute performance saw Donegal emerge victorious and McGuinness brought Donegal to another All-Ireland final in 2014, where they lost out to Kerry.

The Glenties man oversaw the most successful period in Donegal history. As well as that All-Ireland success three years ago, he captured three Ulster titles after taking over in 2010.

McGuinness would be a standout candidate for Mayo officials but the big question is availability.

It is understood that he is set for a new, improved role with Celtic as a sport psychologist and McGuinness is also enjoying media stints in print and with Sky Sports.

His autobiography, Until Victory Always, is due for release on 23 October.

In geographical terms, Mayo and Donegal are quite close but other commitments for McGuinness would scupper any move for his services.

Who is your choice for the position? Is there anybody else that we should be looking out for? Leave your feedback in the comments section below. 

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