INTERESTED OBSERVER James Horan
FORMER Mayo manager James Horan believes it will be ‘extra special’ if Mayo can beat Dublin next Saturday night in MacHale Park, adding that he will ‘never, ever write them off’ knowing the characters in their ranks.
Horan, who was the last Mayo manager to record a competitive victory over Dublin back in 2012, feels that this game is coming at the perfect time for Mayo.
The two-time All Star winner says he expects Stephen Rochford’s men to deliver a much-improved performance on their display against Galway last Sunday week
“I think it’s the ideal game for Mayo,” Horan told The Mayo News. “It’s something that will excite the players, both the experienced guys and the younger guys.
“It’s the game you want to play against the three-time All-Ireland champions. They are coming to your home patch, people are asking questions about Mayo, but I think it’s ideal. The bigger the game, the better for this team, and I expect a great performance from Mayo to be honest.”
Mayo welcome Jim Gavin’s Dublin side to MacHale Park on the back of two straight defeats, including a very disappointing display against Galway in Salthill last time out.
Horan believes Mayo lacked the required amounts of intensity against the Tribesmen, particularly from the younger players trying to make an impact.
However, the eir Sport pundit thinks that Mayo will be a different proposition due to some players returning and the sight of Dublin jerseys in Castlebar.
“I think an interesting point was the lack of energy around the Galway match, it really surprised me,” he said. “But you would expect some of the younger guys to be rattling the cages and I haven’t seen that as much as you would like,
“But I think if they are given another chance against Dublin you will see that.
“Plus, the likes of Leeroy [Keegan] is back training full tilt and the impact that has on a training level is huge… Andy Moran will be an option too, you saw what he did to the Dubs last year.
“And it’s always a case after a bad defeat, people write them off. But they are never as good or as bad as what the general populus think, it’s always somewhere in between, so I expect Mayo to be in good shape.”
The new Westport senior manager also had praise for Dublin manager Jim Gavin, who he expects to be seeking an improvement from their latest winning performance against Donegal in Croke Park.
“Jim Gavin, whatever people say about him, I think he’s a brilliant, brilliant manager,” he said. “And they do treat it one game at a time.
“Of course they factor in the opposition, but if you look at Dublin in the league and championship, no matter who they are playing, it’s all about that game and that performance.
“Now they will be more excited because it’s Mayo. They will be keen to show how good they are and keep that little bit of an advantage they have, but they will just be focusing on their performance and improving from the Donegal match.”
So how does the Ballintubber native see next Saturday night going?
“Beating the Dubs would be great,” he said. “We haven’t beat them since 2012, so look, it would be extra special, of course you want to beat the best in the business.
“It will be a sweet one in Castlebar on Saturday night, the town will be buzzing, there will be a huge crowd, and the players love that, they will feed off the energy.
“I would always give that Mayo team a chance. When you look at the characters around that Mayo team, regardless of form or whatever, when you know what they are capable of you will never write them off.”
INTERESTED OBSERVER James Horan