It was not to be once again for Mayo on the grandest stage of all. But this was not like previous finals in 2004 and 2006 when Mayo left Croke Park after being mauled and maimed by Kerry and questioning everything about their approach to the game. No this was different, still hard to take, but it was another step on the way to the final destination in the future.
James Horan in his two years has built the team how he wants it to be. Two Connacht titles and appearances in the finals of both of this year’s national finals have shown the progress that Mayo have made over the past two seasons. It would have been easy for Mayo to buckle last Sunday after the start they got. But they did not, they took it on the chin and fought back. Afterwards James Horan told the assembled press pack that they will learn from it. “I think we’ll take lots from today. We’ll keep going and we’ll learn from every single experience that we’ve had over the year.” He went to say that from as soon as the team went into the dressing room after the game it was what they talked about. “It was the first thing we said when we came into the dressing room, we went through what we could’ve improved on and what worked for us today and what didn’t work. That’s been our approach all year and it’ll stay the same.”
There were no excuses looked for or offered up by the Ballintubber club man. It could have been easy to point to a probable foul on Cillian O’Connor in the lead up to Donegal’s second goal. But Horan did not offer that up as an excuse saying, “I would have thought that it was a free, but it didn’t go our way. When the ball came back off the post we had it in our hands and we dropped it. We had the chance to clear it but we didn’t.”
That same attitude was shown on the pitch by his charges who dusted themselves down and did not let the game swallow them up and get lost in a mad dash to try to pull back a few goals back early. They went about their work and pushed Donegal to the very end.
O’Neill leaves Mayo set up
Mayo will have to do without the services of Dr Cian O’Neill for the 2013 season. The highly regarded UL lecturer joined James Horan’s backroom team after three years involved with the Tipperary hurling team when they reached three All Ireland finals in a row. The Kildare native had been rumoured to be taking up a position with the Eamon Fitzmaurice’s Kerry set up, but in an interview with the Irish Examiner this week he denied that anything had been agreed in that regards. In the same interview, O’Neill said that the reason he was leaving the Mayo set up was because of health issues. O’Neill who had two discs removed from his back in 2009 following a car accident was finding the five and half hour commute to Castlebar too much over the course of the year. The loss of O’Neill will be a blow to James Horan in the aftermath of last weekend’s final defeat and the search will be on for someone of similar expertise to join the backroom team.