The Mayo News is, as you’d expect, positively bubbling over this week with stuff about James Horan’s appointment as Mayo manager. So, without further ado, here’s your one-stop-shop in relation to what’s in it.
Mike Finnerty has an interview with the new man that took place on Wednesday night just after he’d been handed the bib and those of you who have already listened to the Newstalk interview will see that much of the same ground was covered here as well. I particularly like what JH had to say about the need to put the players at the centre of whole structure, with less focus on “high profile management set-ups”. Amen to that.
There’s no shortage of advice for El Jefe Nuevo either, with Kevin McStay and Pat Holmes both lining up to provide their opinions on what JH needs to focus on now that he’s in the hot seat.
Kev’s advice is that he needs to be his own man (does that mean he should ignore anyone advising him to be?), concentrate on getting us to the All-Ireland quarter-finals every year and develop some media-coping skills. All reasonably sound suggestions, you’d have to say.
On the first, I’d say it’s already pretty obvious that this is the kind of guy he is – the few interviews he’s given to date would suggest that he’s a man who knows his own mind and has a clear vision about what he wants to do as manager. Those interviews also unambiguously demonstrate that he’s no fool where it comes to the media so I’d say he has this one boxed off too. Kevin himself more or less admits this when he says that if you ask James Horan a straight question, you tend to get a straight answer. Those of us who have spent some time over the last four years parsing Johnno-speak might take a while getting used to such clarity of expression.
The point about aiming to get us into the quarters every year is spot on, though. Unlike the Kerrymen, Tyrone and, in recent years, Cork, we’ve been slow off the mark in copping on to the fact that this is where the race for Sam really starts nowadays. How we get there is neither here nor there but the aim has to be to make it this far year after year.
When you think about it, this should certainly be within our reach, as Connacht is a far easier province to negotiate than Ulster or Leinster, with the key to avoiding the worst of the qualifiers being the ability to make the Connacht final. What we really need to develop is the kind of who-gives-a-fuck attitude that Kerry have got where it comes to the Munster final so that if we lose a Connacht decider (which we frequently do), we don’t see that as the end of the world (which we also frequently do) but instead embrace the opportunity provided by the extra hurdle on the way to the quarters.
Kev also mentions the unsuccessful candidacy of his Sunday Game colleague Tommy Lyons and, in doing so, has a crack at “Mayo supporters on websites and discussion boards” who, prior to Wednesday’s decision, were exhorting the selection committee “to ‘do the right thing’ and appoint Horan ahead of Lyons”. I wonder who he’s talking about? If this humble site is included in his criticism (and it might be, dear reader, it might be) I would point out that my core argument was simply that James was the best man for the job and so should get it on merit. Which Kevin says he did. So maybe it’s someone else he’s having a go at after all.
His point about Tommy Lyons, though, is well made. Tommy came in for all manner of criticism – here and elsewhere – about his motives for seeking the job and about his capabilities as a manager. Now that the dust has settled a bit, I think we all need to accept Tommy’s bona fides as to why he went for the job and to acknowledge the dignity with which he accepted what must have obviously been a crushing result for him.
Back to the advice corner, where former manager Pat Holmes – a man who knows a thing or two about coming into the job as a rookie – has his piece to add. Pat is big enough to recognise that James isn’t quite the neophyte that he was when he got the job back in 1999 and that the experience gained with Ballintubber should stand to him. Pat’s advice is all of the broad brush variety but the way in which he enthuses about James’ stated willingness to work closely with the U21 management is quite telling. Would it surprise you to learn that the previous incumbent made no effort whatsoever to liaise with his U21 or minor counterparts at any point during his tenure? I have it on good authority that this was the case and so it’s little surprise that Pat would be happy to see a changed emphasis in this area on the part of the new man.
Elsewhere in the Mayo News, there’s a useful profile by Mike Finnerty on James Horan’s backroom team. And, of course, there’s Sean Rice who does a bit of a Jimmy Magee on it by naming all of JH’s predecessors in the hot seat.
In other news, Hogan Stand is reporting that James Horan won’t be travelling to New York for the FBD World Series Final this coming Sunday. Proper order too – look what happened to Joe Kernan when he used that tie to launch his ill-fated tenure as Galway boss. I’m not going either, by the way, so I’m afraid there’ll be no Twitter updates or inarticulate audio pieces to look forward to from that one (well, not ones produced by me at any rate). Will the Mike and Billy Show be on the air for it, I wonder? I think not, somehow.
Finally, don’t forget that the draw for next year’s championship is on television, on RTÉ 2, this coming Thursday, where throw-in is set for 8 pm. Our lads are, of course, off to Ruislip for the preliminary round next year but our semi-final opponents will be revealed in Thursday evening’s draw. Once this happens, we should have a clearer idea about how difficult it’s likely to be for us as we seek to make it as far as the All-Ireland series in 2011.