The luck of the draw pitted Mayo and Donegal against each other in next Sunday’s All Ireland quarter-final and with that James Horan will square off against Jim McGuinness once again on the sideline. The Mayo manger looked confident and relaxed at the Mayo press event in Breaffy House on Sunday night and was looking forward to taking on last year’s All Ireland champions once again.
When asked about the scuffle that happened in Carrick on Shannon on Saturday evening, between members of the Donegal management team and their Laois counterparts, Horan admitted he did not see it but he had some views on that sort of incident. “I didn't see the scuffle, I’m not too interested in it to be honest. Jim and Rory on the sideline are competitors and they'll use any means at their disposal to try and get an advantage. Look, I didn't see the thing so I don't know what happened, but I certainly know that of them. Look, Donegal and their backroom team are competitive, they're All Ireland champions, anything that will give them an advantage they will try.”
When asked whether there was much banter between him and his backroom team and his counterpart on Sunday on the sidelines in the past, the Ballintubber man said, “I wouldn't think so, no. Although maybe a bit more banter with other teams, it might be a better way to say it. Look, Jim McGuinness and Rory Gallagher on the sideline, they do their thing. Look, when I'm on the sideline I just focus on what’s the best way to help the team that’s on the field. I try and stay as composed as I can.”
It was then put to him that it might appear that there was no love lost between the two sides. He answered: “Maybe show me a team that has good body language towards Mr McGuinness on the sideline, maybe that's a better question. Look, Jim's a successful manager, so good luck to him.”
Horan had earlier addressed the extra physicality that he said Donegal had brought to the game last year, and following comments from the Donegal camp about some of the tackles that had left them with injuries to some of their key men. Without knowing the specifics of the Donegal camps concerns Horan said: “As I said earlier on Donegal have been the leaders in that, there's no doubt about that, they've brought physicality in GAA to a new level and fair play to them. I know they've got a few injuries this year, as I said every inter-county team in the country has significant injuries, more than what Donegal have had. From our position, we don't whine or whinge about it, our two goalies were gone within two days of each other, you just dust yourself down and get on with it, and that's one of the features of Gaelic football and top level sport.”
He had earlier said that Donegal were the front runners in the game in increasing physicality and used it to their advantage last year. “Last year they mastered many new skills and brought football to a different level on many fronts, and in particular in the area of physicality, they really ratcheted that up last year and put a lot of teams to the sword based on their strength and power and tackling. I don't know if any of you have been on the end of a Michael Murphy tackle recently, but there's, serious, serious physicality in that team, they've been the leaders on that front.”