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Horan expecting an ‘absolute battle”

Mayo manager James Horan

Horan preparing for ‘battle’

Mayo face tough NFL opener away to Laois

Mike Finnerty

MAYO manager James Horan is expecting an ‘absolute battle’ when his team begin their Allianz League Division 1 campaign away to Laois next Saturday night (throw-in 7pm).
Horan has made no secret of the fact that he is targetting a top four finish and a place in the semi-finals of the revamped top-flight, especially with Mayo not beginning their Connacht championship campaign until June 24 next.
However, Justin McNulty’s Laois put down an impressive marker when they trounced Wexford in the O’Byrne Cup Shield Final last weekend and will be aiming to hit the ground running in front of their home support in Portlaoise.
“It’s going to be an absolute battle up in Laois, no doubt about that,” said James Horan after last weekend’s FBD League win over NUI, Galway. “They got promoted to Division 1 last year and they’re really going to be gunning for us.
“But we’ll just prepare as well as we can. We had a very good [training] session on Sunday morning so we’re looking forward to it.”
Horan will also be waiting anxiously on reports from a number of third-level colleges games that are taking place around the country today (Tuesday) and tomorrow with a number of his key men in action.
Aidan O’Shea and Alan Freeman (DIT), Jason Doherty (NUI, Galway) and Cillian O’Connor (St Pat’s, Drumcondra) are all expected to line out over the next few days for their respective colleges.
The Mayo squad will train tonight (Tuesday) and on Thursday, at which stage the team to play Laois is expected to be named.
“You could pick up a number of injuries between now and then so it’s very hard at this stage to pick a team,“ admitted the Mayo manager.
“But there’s a lot of guys showing well so there’s a lot of guys in contention. Whoever is doing their stuff in training is getting on on match day.
“We want to get a spine of a team together as early in the year as we can. And build on that, brick by brick,” he added.