Last weekend saw the final group games in both the senior and intermediate club championships in Mayo. Speaking this week to the press, Mayo manager James Horan said that while everyone came though the club championships without major injury it does cause a hindrance for his preparation for next Sunday’s All Ireland quarter final. “You do lose significant time, unlike the Dublin or Donegal, they’re gaining a week, which is a double whammy, which we might lose here and they have a double gain. If it was standard across the board, it suits me down to the ground,” said Horan.
He also said that the club championship can be a help for certain players in his panel. “We’ve up to 30 or so on a panel and in any game, take the Connacht final you can only play max 21, so you could have 10 or 12 guys who have got very little game time that particular day, so sometimes the best thing for them is a competitive game for them to catch up. The club thing is a difficult one, sometimes it suits both the club and the county to have competitive games, other times it doesn’t. It’s not the perfect marriage, but we’re relatively happy. The county board has got three rounds of the championship played, Donegal don’t play till they get knocked out, and Dublin it was the first weekend in May they played their championship [only round so far]. We’re trying to balance it as much as possible without losing any competitive edge from a county point of view.”
He went on to say: “There’s nothing perfect about it, if you look at us as a county, we’re probably at the leading edge of club and county. That’s right throughout the years. The county board, that’s one thing that they’re strong on, with the club structure and the fixtures. Of course there will be complaints but it works well over all.”
The scheduling has led to him and his backroom team having to alter their training schedule before and after last weekends’ round of action and he said that national guidelines set down from Croke Park on managing the two would be preferable. “Absolutely, it would. I said at the outset, in the club games last weekend none of our players got significantly injured, but they’re club championship, so our training week before we had to reduce the loading on players, because we can’t have tired players going into a heavy club game. Where they will be targets for special attention, you have to reduce your work the week before and then when they came out we had eight to nine players who couldn’t train on Tuesday night because of it.”
As for not knowing who they will be playing against until after Saturday evening’s double header of games in Tullamore, he said it doesn’t bother him too much. “It’s not really difficult at all, we’ve had that a few times over the years and any time we’ve had it we’ve performed very, very well. You’re just preparing for a game and you’re focused on yourself, when you know the opposition you focus on them.”
Mayo will take on one of Cork, Sligo, or Tipperary on Sunday week in the All Ireland quarter-final in Croke Park at 4pm, with the Mayo minors playing Armagh in the same venue at 12 noon.