GAA Football

Tyrone-Kerry saga of no concern as Mayo manager James Horan looks ahead to All-Ireland decider

Mayo recovered from trailing by six points at half-time to dethrone seven in-a-row chasing Dublin at Croke Park on Saturday. Pic Philip Walsh
Andy Watters

MAYO manager James Horan made no bones about it, the on-off saga surrounding the Tyrone versus Kerry semi-final is of absolutely no concern to him.

His team are in the final after an unforgettable comeback performance against Dublin on Saturday and Horan’s sole focus now is getting his players back down to earth and then ready for the decider.

“No,” he replied matter-of-factly when asked if he had any thoughts on the postponed semi-final.

“I genuinely haven’t thought about it.”

Horan’s young son burped happily as he drank a can of cola while his dad faced the media after the victory at Croke Park. The Mayo manager may have needed something a little stronger after the drama and tension of his county’s first win over the Dubs since the All-Ireland semi-final of 2012.

“It wasn’t great for periods but all good (in the end) and obviously I’m delighted,” he said.

“We were tentative in the first 15-20 minutes over whether we should hold or push forward. We got a bit caught in that maybe but even with that we had three or four very bad wides. It could have been 10-7 at the break even though we played very poorly – our energy wasn’t what is usually is but we managed to lift it a bit in the second half.

“The group of lads that are in there (the dressingroom), there’s a lot of trust there and a lot of belief there that they can get it going. We have a huge amount of work done so we’re fairly confident that we can get motoring.”

As everywhere outside Dublin counted down the seconds, Horan actually thought there were three minutes left of the nail-biting struggle remaining when referee Conor Lane called the long whistle.

If Tyrone are permitted another week to prepare for their semi-final, the final won’t be played for four weeks. Horan said that wasn’t “ideal prep” - he’d prefer a game every two weeks - but he didn’t feel that the wait until September would cause major disruption to his county’s preparation for a sixth All-Ireland final in 10 years.

“We’ll adapt and get on with it, whatever it is,” he said. He is certain he will not have key forward Cillian O’Connor available for the final but centre half-back Oisin Mullin could have time to recover from a quad muscle injury.

“There were a lot of young guys out there today who were very composed in extra-time,” he added.

“You had Ryan O’Donoghue out there leading and taking charge of things. The maturity of some of the young players was fantastic.

“In the third quarter, when Dublin were attacking, we won some very important turnovers and you could see the body language changing a bit. It gave us a big lift and they got a bit more tentative.

“There were two or three attacks they had in-a-row that had a big impact on the game.”

Sheep are probably already being identified and red and green painted bought in bulk as Mayo supporters begin the build-up to next month’s final. Horan says the team won’t get carried away but he couldn’t say the same for the county’s loyal fans.

“It’s important that you enjoy a win but the players are in the dressingroom already looking to know what the programme is and the plan for the final,” he said.

“There’ll be no issue (of getting carried away) from our side. Fans? I can’t vouch for them!”




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GAA Football