Back to the future as Horan returns for another swing

GAA: Opinion

James Horan was ratified for a four-year term as Mayo GAA manager late last Thursday night, much to the delight of many Mayo supporters who believe he still has unfinished business with the current Mayo team.

Horan, himself, obviously feels there is something left - as well as an opportunity to create history and win the elusive All-Ireland title. Why else would he take on the role and lose out on the lucrative earnings he was making off-the-field as a TV pundit and national newspaper paper columnist?

I admire him for that and - as in the case of Steven Gerard taking over as manager of Rangers - Horan's decision to swap the suit for the tracksuit and the studio for the training ground.

I recall having a chat with Horan after his last tenure as Mayo Manager ended, when he was starting to make waves for himself as a pundit on the TV and radio.

“We couldn't get a word out of you for four years” I told him. “Now we can't keep you quiet”.

He did see the funny side - I think?

I expect the old reserved James Horan to return with immediate effect.

The one thing Horan has above all other managers in the country (although Jim Gavin has become very astute ) is that he will be able to box clever in front of a camera or a microphone, because of his media exploits.

It's not the easiest thing to do if you are not comfortable - and sometimes things come out in a way that you would not have wanted.

This will not happen to James Horan. There will be no need for a media coordinator under his reign. You can fire any question at him no matter how controversial and he won't flinch. The way he deviated on MayoGAA TV when asked about Ciaran McDonald - is a classic case in point.

I, like many others, waited anxiously to see what back-room team James Horan would name and I think I speak for the majority when I say - it's a little underwhelming. None of the team have any inter-county or big game experience - which is something I’m sure the players would be looking for from those who are advising them.

Everybody expected a big name, someone of note that has been there and done that to add a new dimension to the set up; somebody the players would look up to.

Ciaran McDonald and Peter Canavan's names have been mentioned as potential forwards coaches. Either of those guys would certainly raise the bar and expectations.

But could you really see Peter Canavan leaving his Sky gig to become a number two in Mayo? I couldn't.

I am assured there will be more names added to the ticket - we will just have to wait and see.

Saturday night lived up to the billing

Breaffy deservedly made it through to the county senior final after a three point victory over Ballaghadeereen. Had Breaffy capitalised on a dominant first half, they could have been out of sight by half time, but some wayward shooting by them kept Paul McHugh's side in the game.

There were some stand-out performances in the game - none more so for me than Ballagh' full back Seamus Cunniffee. The All-Ireland u21 winner of 2016 will surely be someone of interest for James Horan, who will be looking to find a solution to a problematic full back position.

Breaffy's Matthew Ruane did himself no harm either, with a fine display at midfield - although his radar for a few shots was not in sync. It's imperative he stays injury-free to offer James Horan an option around the middle.

Ballintubber and Castlebar Mitchels couldn't be separated even after extra time in the second semi final. It was a mistake-ridden contest but it kept us enthralled until the bitter end, as it looked for long periods that the Mitchels were letting go of their grasp on the Moclair cup.

Scores were at a premium in this one but two well taken goals by half backs on either team were the highlights. Michael Plunket finished emphatically with his left foot after being put through by Cillian O'Connor - after referee Liam Devanney overturned a sideline ball that his linesman had awarded to Castlebar. We could see from our position on the other side of the field that it was clearly a Ballintubber ball.

Ray O'Malley showed his forwards how to do it in a time of need with a very cool finish in the second half. I have no doubt Castlebar will feel they can only improve for the replay. Diarmuid O'Connor had a sensational game for Ballintubber, very reminiscent of his heroics in Newbridge last July. Despite being on the receiving end of some fairly hefty tackles, he never stopped until the bitter end and was definitely the man of the match.

A word of mention to Ballintubber's Brian Walsh - who was given the most unwanted job in football (tracking Paddy Durcan ); he did extremely well and subdued the prolific Durcan for long periods. It was the least influential I have seen Durcan in a long while. I'm sure he'll want to make amends in the replay.

News from home

The very best of luck to the Charlestown LGFA who take on Westport in the county intermediate final this Saturday in Swinford amenity park at 4.15pm. After a heroic semi final win over Claremorris, the Sarsfields girls will be looking to bring home their second intermediate title after winning the first in 2015.


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