BY KIERAN McCARTHY
JAMIE Wall is new to the management game and he doesn’t profess to know it all, far from it, but his thoughts and beliefs on management are refreshing.
He’s only 24 and after one campaign in the dugout with the bainisteoir bib, but the Kilbrittain man already boasts one major win in his management – he led Mary I to the 2017 Fitzgibbon Cup last month after victory over IT Carlow in the final.
To recognise his contribution, Wall was presented with the Celtic Ross West Cork Sports Star of the Month Award for February last Thursday where he shared some of his thoughts on management and his style that caters for the needs of the group as individuals rather than as a single group.
‘Something that I have learned, and maybe it’s because I qualified as a teacher and I half thought it anyway, if you have 30 kids in a class room, some will have different needs to others to make them click. At certain times some need to be given a small bit of a leash and other times pulled into line,’ Wall explained.
‘You have to recognise that if you have a panel of 30 players then they’re not all going to be the same. They need to treated equally but they might need to be treated differently at times.
‘You can treat people differently while treating them equally, while accounting for the fact that you have 30 guys in a team or 30 kids in a class – they’re all different.
‘The approach of blanket rules and guidelines for teams, for me it’s not the way forward.’
‘The bottom line is that if I have 30 individuals who are happy, who are in good form and who have been catered for as best as possible, then they will probably perform better, and that winning being king will still maintain.
‘I have a better chance of winning if I have 15 starters and six subs coming on and a panel that is comfortable and able to enjoy each other, themselves and the set-up.’
‘It can be very straightforward to say that winning is king and we need to do this, this and this, but that can be counter-productive from the sense that one of your better guys is unhappy with what’s going on or needs a break or let loose – or maybe a guy needs to be pulled back a small bit.
‘In the modern game results are seen as the most important thing, I believe that progress is far more important that results. At the end of this year, only one team will have won the All-Ireland football title, only one team will win the Sigerson, the Fitzgibbon, so does that mean that only those teams have had a successful year? In my opinion, no.
‘There’s only one team that can have the perfect year every year so does that mean the rest of us are wasting our time? I’d say no.
‘Allowing for what you define as success, and as the year went on I redefined my ideas of what success entails when it comes to management.’
As for what his own future in management holds, the 24-year-old West Cork man shrugs his shoulders.
‘This year went like a dream – but every other year could go horrendously or it could continue going in the right vein and go really well,’ Wall said.
‘I learned fairly quickly that there isn’t any point in looking too far down the line because you don’t know what’s going to happen.
‘When it comes to management there is less time pressure than being a player. I could take a break for ten years and when I come back I’d still be young starting, I’d only be 34, or I could do this for 20 years and retire at 44, when most lads are getting going.
‘Would I be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about the day that might come when I might manage my club or my county, of course I have thought about these things. A lot of people have, but only a few get to experience them.
‘There are no guarantees I could ever reach that level. I had a very good first year, there’s no point in saying otherwise, it couldn’t have gone any better – but I’m not getting ahead of myself either.
‘In five years time I could say it’s an awful stress on my life, I’m going grey at 29, I can’t handle this.
‘I am an open book to this, I’m not saying that I want to do this and this or that I don’t want to do that. If I think something will motivate me to do really well or if I am enjoying something, they are the two reasons I will do something.
‘The bottom line is that these aren’t something that you are drawing a wage from, you’re not going to make big bucks managing in the GAA, so you need a good reason to do these things, otherwise you won’t do it to the best of your ability.
‘Looking at Mary I for next year, we are losing a few players and keeping a good few, there’s a good group there and I’ll enjoy being involved and it’s a challenge that motivates, and all going according to plan, fingers crossed, we’ll get back in that next year.
‘When the day comes where I don’t want to do it, then I won’t do it. If I see something as an opportunity and I enjoy it, then I’ll do it.’