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Former Dublin footballer Senan Connell pictured at the launch of eir's Allianz League coverage.
Former Dublin footballer Senan Connell pictured at the launch of eir's Allianz League coverage.

Connell expects Horan to deliver for Mayo

By Cian O'Connell

Senan Connell believes James Horan's return as Mayo manager is a significant plus for the green and red.

Former Dublin footballer Connell is adamant that Mayo are one of the teams best placed to examine current standard bearers Dublin in the 2019 Championship.

"I think Mayo have made a great decision in bringing James Horan back because if nothing else, we now know you need time to develop a culture," Connell says. "It's all about the culture really and Dublin already have that.

"With James being there before, the whole bunch of players he had there before and then to bring in the newer guys, I think he'll get that culture fairly fast because they can tap into it. That's one team you'll always be wary of. If they can keep guys like Cillian (O'Connor) injury free, nail down a spot for Aidan O'Shea, they're always dangerous."

Having worked alongside Horan as an analyst in recent years Connell is certain that the Mayo manager is ready, willing, and able to deliver on the inter-county circuit again. "When he came on board first of all, certainly you would have got the idea that he was - I wouldn't say happy to be out, but maybe he'd gone so far," Connell says.

"I think last year you got a sense from him, because we were pinging questions off him believe me all the time about whether he'd any interest.

James Horan is back in charge of the Mayo footballers.
James Horan is back in charge of the Mayo footballers.

"He's very good and you guys will know it, he's very shrewd in how he just bats them questions away. He won't give information away too easy. But come the All-Ireland final day in studio, post-match he was asked live on air. 

"At that time his name was in the media because it had been seven or eight weeks since Kildare had beaten them, you got a sense off him then that he was going to go back. But certainly not in the early years. But I will say he's a very shrewd man, a very intelligent man, a very intelligent manager I'd say as well.

"And he understands players. He seems to me to be a player's manager. I can understand why players would gravitate towards him. Plus he has credibility, he's been there as a player, All-Star, and he's proven it as a manager. So they could be the team to watch as well."

Connell also feels that Horan's stint on television will have mean many lessons were learned. "Undoubtedly," Connell responds. "And if you think about it, we're sitting in a TV studio there with Peter Canavan and Jim McGuinness. So you're tapping into brains that have come from different angles and if anywhere at the back of his brain he was thinking about going back, if it was me I'd have a notepad full of stuff after every round of games you're working with. 

"As a manager, you can imagine how much time is taken up managing players, venues and all the other stuff. Whereas James was just going to venues, prepping stuff, watching videos of games, analysing in detail with touchscreen stuff. He'll have a whole armoury of stuff that he didn't have before.

"Plus an inside line, I'm sure he would have been tapping brains and ideas of all of us. So he'll have that as well."

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