Wednesday, November 09, 2005

John Maughan- Is He Mad?

As John Maughan surveys the challenges ahead of him as the new manager of Roscommon's senior footballers, he would be forgiven for seeing an obstacle course as daunting as any he would have faced in his army training days.

Roscommon has become a case study of all that can go wrong in the ever more heady world of inter-county football. The Great Naked Pool fiasco, the passion of Frankie Dolan, holes in the county board's balance sheet the size of Seamus O'Neill's bloomers; the fact that the last outing for the Rossies was the less than rousing Tommy Murphy Cup exit to the mighty Tipperary. One would be forgiven for thinking that Maughan had added masochism to his list of hobbies.

The Mayoman has a track record for making silk purses out of sow's ears. His reveille to the world of inter-county management was a resounding one. In winning a Munster title with Clare in 1992 he was a key part in what became a movement across both Gaelic codes for the redistribution of glory to those traditionally less fortunate.

He is, of course, best known for his involvement with his native county in bringing them to three, albeit unsuccessful, All-Ireland Finals. Indeed, it is a shame that for many the enduring image of Maughan would seem to be the very fact of those failures, rather than the achievement of actually building two separate teams that almost brought the ultimate success to that famished county.

Such are the laws of sporting posterity, but let us hope that that Maughan receives due credit for the sheer enthusiasm he brings to the generally thankless task of county management. As he said on his accession to the Roscommon throne: "I love the thing, the fear of being stuck in watching Coronation Street on a Tuesday and Thursday night was a huge problem for me. I enjoy it and I'm at an age where I still have a huge enthusiasm for the game". I heard one commentator, in expressing surprise at Maughan's interest in the Roscommon job, suggest that they thought he would be looking to go out to pasture as a media pundit- the insinuation being: Why would he be bothered? Why wouldn't he, as one of the more intelligent and articulate figures in Gaelic games, simply take the easy money for zero-pressure opinions that become tomorrow's chip-wrapper?

It's a testament to him that, after all these years, even the seemingly hopeless task of managing Roscommon has not dimmed his enthusiasm.

A good thing too, because he'll need plenty of it.


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