Mayo confirm cult hero Ciaran McDonald has joined their coaching staff
The man with pixie dust in his left peg is back in the inter-county scene with Mayo.
Ciaran McDonald has been 11 years out of the county game but he is still fondly remembered, and revered, by the Mayo faithful.
McDonald last played for Mayo in 2008 but carried on playing club football and many Mayo fans harboured hope of the forward making one last comeback, but it never arrived.
Ahead of the 2020 season, however, McDonald has returned to the senior football set-up. A statement from Mayo GAA reads:
'Mayo Senior team manager James Horan today confirmed the appointment of Ciaran McDonald to the Mayo Senior Coaching Team with immediate effect.
'McDonald (44) played senior county football with Mayo for 14 years between 1994 and 2008 and also had a very successful career with his Club, Crossmolina Deel Rovers winning an All Ireland title in 2001. He has also been involved with the Mayo GAA academy teams for the last number of years.
'Ciaran’s role will be to work closely with James Burke in a coaching capacity and will support the development of the players in a football context.'
One wonders if there is any other context in Gaelic football than 'a football context' but we take it to mean McDonald will be doing a lot of on-field work with the senior panel.
The man himself said it was a great honour to be brought into the fold by Horan. "I am really delighted to have been invited by James to join his back-room team," he begins.
"I really admire the work being done behind the scenes and the highly professional way in which James is moving it forward. I am excited about both the approach and potential of these talented players over the coming years.
"We saw some great new young players coming onto the field this year and there is a good pipeline of talent coming through thanks to the good work being done at underage and academy level throughout the county. I hope to add to that and will assist in every way I can. I’m really relishing the opportunity to be back involved with the Mayo Senior Football team once again."
As for Horan, he speaks highly of McDonald and what he can bring into the mix for the 2020 inter-county season. "Ciaran brings a wealth of experience, vision and skill to our coaching set up" Horan notes, "and this will also fit in very well with the development phase we are currently in with this senior squad.
"11 years on from his last senior appearance for Mayo, Ciaran is still being acknowledged nationally as one of the finest exponents of the modern era. He is also a player’s player – someone who made his own opportunities on the field of play, creating some outstanding moments and demonstrating great flair, fitness, endurance and individual talent. I know he will bring all that innate ability and commitment to this present squad. It will be a welcomed and a valued addition to the excellent team of committed people that are already driving this team forward and achieving great things."
Horan and the senior panel commenced their pre-season training on December 1 and their first game of 2020 will be a league encounter with Donegal on January 25.