Horan: 'I think the gap is increasing'
By Cian O'Connell
Former Mayo manager James Horan reckons the Green and Red will be ‘much too strong for Galway’ at Elverys McHale Park on Saturday evening.
Horan is impressed with how the youngsters in Stephen Rochford’s panel are adapting to the inter-county arena.
“I think Mayo are going to be very strong,” is Horan’s verdict. “They’re stronger than last year with the addition of a number of players.
“Diarmuid O’Connor has obviously become the player that he is, you have Evan Regan is breaking through, you have Stephen Coen that’s captained the u-21s breaking through and playing very good club football. You have Patrick Durcan from Castlebar.
“These are all young progressive, very dynamic players with proven character. With Conor Loftus as well pushing hard.
“You have five or six new guys who appear to be very ready to jump into Senior Championship football so when you add that to the experience that’s there, and the age profile of the guys that are there is very good. So if Mayo perform like they can then I think they’ll be extremely strong and much too strong for Galway.”
Despite a plucky performance last year Horan reckons that Galway aren’t ‘closing the gap’ on Mayo at all. “Yeah, I know Kevin Walsh mentioned about closing the gap, but I’d be the opposite. I think the gap is increasing.
“Galway have lost some very good players. They’ve lost Micheal Lundy, they’ve lost Johnny Duane, Fiontan O Curraoin, U-21 All-Ireland captain, all that sort of stuff.
“You saw a lot of guys with Corofin winning an All-Ireland club title who aren’t near the panel. So there were a few things like that…yeah, you know, if you talk to people in Galway there was usually a huge energy about where thy are going and what the potential was, but you don’t sense that any more.
“You almost get the sense that everyone in Galway thinks if they can get out of Castlebar with under a 10-point beating or a six-point beating that they’ll be happy enough. To me, it’s definitely lost that bit of competitiveness.”
Horan admitted to be surprised that Galway haven’t seriously competed for a Connacht title since winning in 2008.
“I am a bit surprised,” Horan replied. “If you look at the pedigree or what you can make out of the U-21 category, Galway have three All-Ireland U-21 winning teams so it’s surprising you wouldn’t get a decent percentage of those coming through and based with the likes of Paul Conroy and Gareth Bradshaw and their experienced guys.
“So yeah, I am surprised that they’ve dropped back. In my time playing against Galway it was always nip and tuck. I just think they don’t seem to have progressed.
“You know with the top teams that have progressed and are trying everything humanly possible, you just don’t get that sense with Galway, that they’re doing everything they possibly can to be as good as you can.”
James Horan is a pundit for Sky Sports who carry exclusive coverage of the Connacht Senior Football Championship meeting of Galway and Mayo this Saturday, on Sky Sports 3. To celebrate the return of the Championship season, Sky customers can upgrade today and enjoy half price Sky Sports for 6 months by simply going to channel 402 and pressing the red button or visit www.sky.ie/sports **