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Horan laments lack of pressure play

Horan laments lack of pressure

Mike Finnerty

MAYO manager James Horan faced the assembled media alone after last Saturday night’s defeat to Dublin at Croke Park and put on a brave face as he summarised his response to Mayo’s second successive defeat of this eventful Allianz League campaign.
“I’m disappointed with a lot of things but happy enough about some things,” he said when asked for his ‘initial reaction’ to the result.
“Dublin played very well, got some good scores, and they’re electric at the moment. They’re very pacy. That was a serious intensity and pace to that game.
“They’re ahead of a lot of teams at the moment in terms of S&C [strength and conditioning] but good luck to them. They’re playing good football and they have some really pacy guys in their team.
“They deserved their win.”
Among the issues Horan felt cost Mayo dearly in the end were a ‘tentative’ start, a systems failure in the first half when it came to breaking ball, some bad wides at the start of the second half, and a failure to put pressure on Dublin’s suppliers of possession to Bernard Brogan.
The 2010 Footballer of the Year finished up with a personal tally of 1-10 (1-4 from play) and Mayo’s All Star full-back Ger Cafferkey had a torrid time trying to pin Brogan down.
However, James Horan was adamant that Cafferkey had done very little wrong and laid the blame at the feet of Mayo players further out of the field.
“When you have the guys kicking in the ball, particularly in the first half, the amount of time that they had, yourself could put in a pass to Bernard Brogan and he would score it,” he pointed out to one national reporter.
“That’s where it came from. Our full-back line, considering the pressure they were under in the first half actually did well.
“But the amount of space they had around the middle, we weren’t pushing up and putting pressure on them, and they had a field day picking out the passes that they wanted to.
“That’s where the problem lies.”
Yet again, the statistics don’t make for particularly pretty reading for Mayo’s backroom team or players.
In the first half, Dublin won more than 80 per cent of the breaking ball that was available and subsequently outscored Mayo by 1-5 to 0-2 during the second quarter.
“We started very tentatively,” offered the Mayo manager. “They ate us on breaking ball in the first half, around the middle. They got every break I think in the first ten or fifteen minutes, but we came back and on minimum possession did quite well.”
While the subject of Mayo’s failure to utilise their extra man for the last thirty minutes, following the dismissal of Dublin’s Ger Brennan, didn’t feature too prominently in the press conference, it will certainly be discussed at length in James Horan’s team-talks and analysis session with his players this week.
“We started the second half quite well too but shot a couple of bad wides which knocked our momentum,” Horan said last Saturday night.
“We went ahead there but when the man got sent off, sometimes it happens, it seemed to work against us.
“We sat back, we were a little bit conservative when we should have kicked on. Dublin played it very well.”
Ahead of next Saturday night’s trip to Down, The Mayo News asked if Mayo felt ‘under pressure’ after winning only one of their first three matches.
“That’s good, we like that,” was the manager’s response. “We’d prefer to have more points in the bag but we have games now over the next couple of weeks and we’ll prepare like everybody else and see where it takes us.”