Mayo are on the lookout for a new senior football Manager after James Horan decided to call it a day after losing to Kerry in the All-Ireland quarter final in Croke park last Sunday.
Horan won six Connacht titles and a national league title along with guiding Mayo to four All-Ireland finals and a National Football League win during his two four-year stints as manager.
Last Sunday was the first year under his guidance that Mayo were eliminated in the quarter finals, having guided his charges to either semi-finals or finals on all other occasions. The arduous task of finding a replacement starts now and will certainly captivate us for the next few months.
Mayo failed to make it count
James Horan's last game in charge isn't exactly one that will live long in the memory banks of Mayo supporters for positive reasons, as Mayo fell away in the second half, eventually losing to Kerry by 1-18 to 0-13 points. For those of you not present in Croke Park, it was literally the weirdest scenario I have ever experienced before a game of such magnitude between two of the big hitters of the modern era, Kerry and Mayo.
The life, soul and energy was sucked out of everybody after witnessing the most epic and controversial battles between Galway and Armagh in the first quarter final that Galway, of course, eventually won on penalties. Their encounter threw in at 1.45pm and wasn't concluded until 4.30pm or thereabouts. It was like the main course was served before the starter. It can only have been very unsettling for the Mayo and Kerry players who were primed for a 4pm throw in and ended up having to wait for up to an hour to get their game under way.
Mayo were in this game for long periods as Kerry couldn't pull away. Kerry looked extremely rusty and were there for the taking but our same old failings came back to haunt us. Despite David Clifford scoring a peach of a first half goal, Mayo were well in it at half time, only behind by a single point. I never realised Clifford had such pace as he left Paddy Durcan in his wake before hammering it to the roof of Robbie Hennelly's net.
It was going to take something special to ignite the Mayo support. Rarely can I remember a game where the chants of “Mayo Mayo Mayo” didn’t bellow around Croke Park several times during a big championship match. The atmosphere was so subdued I could actually hear Sean O'Shea calling for a pass from Kerry's Diarmuid O'Connor from seven floors up in the press area of the Hogan stand.
Numbers don't lie and unfortunately they make for grim reading from a Mayo perspective, as chance after chance was squandered, most of which were from relatively straightforward positions. Kerry were doing their best to keep us in the contest as Mayo more than held their own from a possession point of view.
After Mayo missed a few easy chances, Kerry’s response was to saunter down the field and tap over with consummate ease to compound Mayo's poor shooting. The shot map from the game makes for excruciating viewing. Mayo had 32 shots at the Kerry goal posts, none of which were from outside the 45 metre line. That was four more shots than Kerry managed, who only amassed 28 shots at the Mayo goal but they were more clinical.
Of the 32 shots Mayo had, thirteen points were scored, one hit the post, eleven went wide and the most damning of all is that six dropped short, coughing up simple possession to the Kingdom. The third quarter was to prove our undoing. Only down by a point at the interval, we were well in the game but 0-3 from eleven attempts will not cut the mustard at this level.
In the final quarter Mayo only managed a single point from five attempts at the Kerry goal, in comparison to Kerry, who had seven shots in the fourth quarter and scored 0-7 points. Therein lies the story of the game. Kerry scored 1-11 of their total from turnovers and managed to stay ahead with super efficiency when they got into the scoring zone. Mayo created the chances but failed to execute them, which was bitterly disappointing.
It must be noted we had to play almost the entire championship campaign without two of our most prolific forwards - Tommy Conroy, who got injured in the Sigerson Cup - and Ryan O'Donoghue, early in the championship. We simply don't have the back-up in personnel to compete without those two. It's now time to sit back and take stock.
Minors show their stuff again
I have to congratulate our brilliant minor team who, by their own very high standards, didn't play well against a very defensive Kerry outfit but ultimately, they ground out a result and got the job done. Ronan Clarke's first half goal was absolutely critical because it came at a time when Mayo were a bit all over the place and the goal helped massively to settle the team.
I haven't decided yet if it's a good or bad thing that they are playing Galway in the All-Ireland final, having previously beaten the Tribesmen twice in the Connacht championship. That final is on in Hyde Park on Friday, July 7. I sure hope Mayo bring a huge support to it.