MAYO “made too many mistakes to win an All-Ireland semi-final”, manager James Horan told the media at last Sunday’s post-match press conference. “We carried the ball into tackles too often, and took shots under too much pressure, and kicked away some soft kick passes.”
The Ballintubber clubman said Mayo have “made significant improvements in certain areas”, but Kerry “exposed some of the gaps which we need to target for the next adventure”.
The Munster champions “were a better team and showed us the areas where we need to improve”, he concluded. “Guys have to learn from this, take it on the chin and learn from it. You go away during the off-season and become a better player and you get ready for the next season.”
While noting that Colm Cooper is “a class player” who “got a few good scores”, Horan said the Kerryman’s “killer” goal was “really soft” from a Mayo perspective, and some of his other scores were aided by “very average” Mayo defending.
“There were a few things that we were disappointed with,” he added.
“We had a few guys on him [Cooper] at a few stages on him during the game, but if ‘Gooch’ gets good quality ball in, that’s where the real problem is,” said the former All-Star.
“That’s the root cause. We were getting beaten in the middle of the field, and Kerry were getting a lot of breaking ball, and that’s where they were getting the momentum, and we found it hard to change there.
“Halfway during the first half, I thought we could have kicked on a little bit more. We were into our shell a little bit with maybe ten minutes to go in the first half. That wasn’t ideal, and I suppose Kerry started very well in the second half and showed great hunger and desire. “That’s why they’re here so often. They kept driving forward, and we found it hard to get a stranglehold in the middle of the field. That’s really for me, I suppose, why we were under so much pressure.”
Agreeing that progress had been made this season, the Coca-Cola employee said one “huge positive” was the team’s willingness to “keep going” even when there were times “where it could have went horribly wrong”.
The team “kept ploughing away”, a trait that was necessary “if you’re going to try and build a team or try and do anything with a team”, he added.
“We tackled hard and we worked hard today. I thought some of the decisions given against us today were incredibly harsh and I thought we worked on Kerry quite well. ... We have the ability and the quality to really challenge teams. We’ll be looking to develop that again.”
MEANWHILE, Kerry manager Jack O’Connor said the semi-final was “the most physical game by far” that his side had played in the championship so far this year. “I think this man [James Horan] has brought a tougher edge to Mayo, certainly. I never saw a Mayo team tackling like that before – in my time, anyway … they were very intense and they kept it going for 50, 60 minutes, but thankfully we pulled away.”