Horan's second coming gets going on Sunday

GAA: FBD League

Back on the road: James Horan will take charge of Mayo for the first time since 2014 on Sunday, when they take on Leitrim in the FBD League on Sunday. Photo: Sportsfile.

Back on the road: James Horan will take charge of Mayo for the first time since 2014 on Sunday, when they take on Leitrim in the FBD League on Sunday. Photo: Sportsfile.

By the time the ball throws in this Sunday, a total of 1,590 days will have passed since James Horan's last game in charge of Mayo in the All Ireland semi-final replay against Kerry in August 2014 - to this first act of his second coming, when the team takes on Leitrim in the opening round of the FBD League in Carrick-on-Shannon.

Since Horan walked away after that heart-breaking semi-final defeat, Mayo have seen the joint ticket of Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly take over for one season, before the players pulled the plug on that arrangement - followed by the three year reign of Stephen Rochford's - which ended last summer after Mayo's defeat to Kildare in Newbridge.

Since Horan's last tenure, Mayo have reached two All Ireland finals and another semi-final, with last season's defeat marking the only time they didn't reach the final four and weren't eliminated from the championship by Dublin - who have won the last four titles and are starting their own drive for title number five.

Having dipped his toes back into football management last year with Westport, Horan will be looking to use his full breadth of knowledge of players in the county heading into this season.

Speaking to Mayo GAA TV in a video that was released on New Years Eve, Horan outlined his hopes for the FBD League saying: "Well we are going out to win the FBD for a start - it has been a while since we won a competition, so it will be great to get that feeling again."

As for the players we could expect to see in action this weekend, the Ballintubber man added: "Obviously we have a number of long-term injuries, but outside that we have a very strong panel to pick from. We have brought in a lot of new guys to the extended panel - so we will be very keen to see what they can do in the FBD and we have some of the experienced guys who are really pushing hard, because they don't want to miss out as well.

"Very excited about the FBD - we are away in Carrick-on-Shannon in the first game and we will definitely be looking to the guys who are performing well in training and will be starting, whether they are 17 or 36."

Horan went on to name check some younger players he sees as exciting talent that can add to the experienced squad he has inherited, saying: "We have some very exciting talent in Mayo, we saw that in the u20 campaign last year and some of the players who have come through the underage structure are very exciting - Colm Moran, the Colm Diskin - Ryan O'Donoghue is injured at the moment but I'm very excited to see him coming back in - and we have a lot of guys like Brian Reape and Fionn McDonagh who were there knocking round last year and Ciaran Tracey from Ballina, who have shown very, very well - there is a lot of these guys that are ready, which is great for us.

"They are training very well at the moment, some of them are playing Sigerson and we'll see how that works out; and the guys that are on form at the moment and are playing well will also be thrown in for sure."

Sunday will mark the first time Mayo will play a competitive game under the new experimental rules introduced by for the provincial leagues and the national league. Horan is no fan: "Lets see how they are, I think they are a little bit crazy to be honest - I don't know what we are trying to do to the referee, how they are going to be refereed I just don't know.

"You have seen it in quite a lot of the games already where they have been used - it is going to be a struggle, so I'm not sure what will be brought in for the national league, we have to wait and see, but we have to play with what's there. We've done a little bit of work on it and we've to make sure the players understand it and we'll play whatever's happening", he said.


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