Photo: Nat Telliya (@rodgegella) via Twitter
Well, that’s it then. The final itself is well and truly over and the homecoming is too – fair play to everyone who turned out, by the way, in atrocious weather conditions down at McHale Park yesterday evening for the lads’ official return to home territory – as the curtain comes down on our 2012 championship season. It’s been one hell of a year, with the team getting to both the NFL and the All-Ireland finals (the last time we did that was in 1951), and while the only silverware we have to show for 2012 is the Nestor Cup (never a trophy to turn one’s nose up at, in my opinion) it’s still been a year of success and of development for the county.
The upbeat mood within the camp was obviously still evident as the lads were checking out of the Regency yesterday morning. Speaking with the Irish Times, James Horan was in reflective mood about what might have been but was also keen to stress how the team are already looking ahead to the future:
As regards the desire of the team, yeah the guys will drive it on forward, no doubt about that. Even yesterday there were guys looking at skill protocols, strength and conditioning protocols, for the winter. And that was straightaway after the game, and that was hugely encouraging.
In terms of his own position, James was in philosophical mood and he wasn’t exactly definitive in what he had to say about staying on for the final year of his initial three-year term:
Well, I don’t know how contracts work in the GAA, to be honest. All I remember on the night I got the job I was told it was three years. So we’ll see. But I suppose it is relentless, absolutely relentless, and maybe that’s something I didn’t fully appreciate. Morning, noon and night, and every single day. It’s hard to get a bit of off-time, but you wouldn’t do it unless you enjoyed it.
That report does, however, state that “no-one doubts” James will still be in the saddle for 2013 and my understanding is that it’s very likely this will be the case.
Andy Moran was also in bullish mood when he met the media before the team left Dublin yesterday. Speaking to the Irish Independent, Andy predicted that:
I believe we’re going to win more than one [All-Ireland], to be honest with you. If we win one we’ll keep going. This is a great group of lads and I wouldn’t be surprised in two weeks’ time if these lads are back training.
That piece also states that Andy has targeted the beginning of April for his comeback from the cruciate injury suffered against Down in the All-Ireland quarter-final.
If Andy is correct and we do land Sam in the near future, then it appears all but certain that current team coach Cian O’Neill won’t be involved, as the Irish Examiner is reporting today that the Kildare native is leaving the Mayo set-up to join Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s management team in Kerry. While this is obviously a set-back for James Horan, it cannot be any surprise to him: I heard well-placed rumours to this effect up here shortly after the Dublin game.
That Irish Examiner article also states that if Cian does, as expected, jump ship we have a replacement lined up in the form of National Athlete Development Academy consultant and Tallaght IT lecturer Barry Solan who was involved with Laois this year and who has also done elite coaching work with the likes of Katie Taylor, the Clontarf AIL rugby team and the Polich soccer team. (Further background on Barry is in this Mayo News article from earlier in the year). Barry is a native of Ballaghaderreen and he won a senior county championship medal with the club in 2008.