OUT AND ABOUT Mayo manager James Horan is pictured with Noel Howley, who is a member of the Mayo senior squad’s support team, at last Sunday’s Mayo SFC match between Ballintubber and Claremorris in Hollymount. Pic: Conor McKeown
Mayo manager James Horan has spoken publicly for the first time since the All-Ireland Final
YESTERDAY (Monday) morning many of us sat down to listen to Mayo manager James Horan speak publicly for the first time since last month’s All-Ireland Final defeat to Tyrone.
The interview with Tommy Marren on Mid West Radio shed light on some of the issues and addressed some of the questions doing the rounds since the team’s defeat on September 11, but there were some topics — like the possible reasons why so many Mayo players underperformed against Tyrone — that weren’t discussed.
Horan rubbished reports of a rift with members of the management team, saying rumours of arguments between himself, Ciaran McDonald and James Burke were ‘incredible.’
He said the performance of his team in the final against Tyrone was ‘disappointing’ and added ‘there are blatant untruths being spouted out on social media’. However, Horan was not asked why he felt his team performed badly on All-Ireland day or what was learned from the occasion. Neither, was he asked about his approach to dealing with the media over the past season.
In relation to the perceived rift with selectors Ciaran McDonald and James Burke, Horan said the rumours were completely untrue.
“I didn’t realise this was happening. I find it incredible with the amount of untruths published. It’s phenomenal. We’ve been working the last few weeks to plot and plan for next season, so some of the stories generated are actually incredible. Maybe some people will take a breath and reflect on what has been written or said.
“I have talked with Ciaran (McDonald) four or five times a day since the All- Ireland final.
“I saw a clip sent around where there were a couple of hundred people behind one of the selectors on All-Ireland day. It was noisy, so I asked him [James Burke] to repeat what he said, and people took stuff from that too. It’s bonkers. There is absolutely nothing in any of it; it is a complete untruth and that’s where it is. I can’t control that,” he stated.
Marren then asked why Ciaran McDonald did not stand beside him on the sideline during the All-Ireland final?
“Ciaran sits behind me because he is not allowed to stand beside me on the line because of multiple GAA rules and conditions. There is no selector that stands beside any manager. “There are five of us involved in picking the team and if all five of us were in the one position we would all have the same view, so we have people in different positions. Ciaran has been sitting there all year, but people see it on All-Ireland final day, and it becomes a thing.”
The Mayo manager admitted it was disappointing to lose the final in the manner they did.
“As a team and group, we had big plans and we didn’t play to the top of our ability on the day. But we always try our best. No-one is more disappointed than the team, players and our families. We are absolutely determined to figure it out, take ownership and come out in 2022 a stronger team.”
When asked about players receiving sponsorship deals and appearing in the media before big games, Horan replied that the management team tried to find a balance.
“We try to monitor it,” he said. “We try to ensure that players get the balance in all aspects of their lives right.”
When specifically asked about Aidan O’Shea and his profile, Horan was stout in his defence of the team captain.
“I haven’t seen it highlighted the work Aidan does when asked to go to schools and other areas. The timing of the article (in reference to an advertising campaign that O’Shea was involved in that appeared in various publications during the lead-in to the All-Ireland final) wasn’t good, but when there is a defeat everyone blames various stuff.
“We try to work with players. Every part of their life needs to be balanced. We work full time with players to get balance and we get it mostly right.”
Horan also addressed the spreading of rumours on social media and said there were times when he would like to challenge people personally.
“I know there are blatant untruths out there, so far from any realm from the truth it’s crazy and the gut reaction is that you would love to meet these people and say it to them. But, was it [Winston] Churchill that said, ‘if you stop to throw a stone at every dog that barks, you will never move on’.”