James Horan delighted with emerging Mayo talent
By Cian O’Connell
Since returning as Mayo senior football manager James Horan has been busy developing and integrating new talent.
A first Connacht title since 2015 was secured following away wins over Leitrim, Roscommon, and Galway with several emerging players delivering valuable contributions.
Oisín Mullin, Eoghan McLaughlin, Rory Brickenden, Bryan Walsh, Ryan O’Donoghue, Jordan Flynn, Mark Moran, and Tommy Conroy are amongst an exciting crop, who have enjoyed some productive moments with Mayo in recent months.
“There is a few things to do with it, the natural evolution of a team: that happens,” Horan says ahead of the December 6 All Ireland SFC semi-final against Tipperary.
“There is nothing like a few injuries to bring on new players. Then the way the season went this year, in particular, with the shop window of the Club Championship, it had a lot of players, who really shone through that.
“Then the inter-county season straight after in such a short period after made it a really interesting dynamic. It just added to a lot of players being involved. The natural order of things is that there has been a strong team for a number of years.
“Time waits for no man too, if guys are playing well they will get their shot. It is a mix, I suppose, and we are lucky we have a lot of real quality with some of the young guys as you've seen over the past number of weeks.
“We are just hoping to continue that, we don't see it as young and old at this stage. The guys are training together, whoever does well plays. That is where we are at.”
Horan also confirmed that Mayo have no fresh injury concerns ahead of the clash at the penultimate stage.
“No we are pretty good at the moment,” Horan remarks. “We have a few knocks and bangs, we had five games in a row, and the weeks before that there were challenge matches which were needed. We had very little time to train so that is a lot of stuff in a short space of time.
“There is always going to be guys missing the odd session here and there with recovery. Where we are at the moment, Jason Doherty is obviously out, James McCormack is out, and Brendan Harrison is out. Outside of that we are in pretty good shape to be honest.”
Having went seven months without competitive inter-county matches, Horan acknowleged that the enforced break proved valuable for Mayo in certain ways.
“Yeah, I think it did for us,” Horan states. “Another way of looking at it is we made the most of it because it was what it was.
“We completely released the players, we didn't have any trainings, we gave them to the clubs and worked with the clubs quite closely which I think worked well with no pull or no strain being on anyone. I think it worked very well.
“When the club season was over we had players really looking forward to be back playing with the top players in the county. I think the players were refreshed and I think management too.
“We were able to watch the Club Championship, see what was happening. Sometimes you can get into an echo chamber with inter-county. When you are out of that you change things or look at things differently.
“With Covid I think everyone in general life has changed things which a couple of months ago might have been important, but now mightn't be as important. A lot of that sort of stuff is going on which is interesting.”
Mayo adapted planting the green and red flag on the Connacht summit again.