Bullish Horan aiming for further progress this weekend

I know that the clouds are already spilling in over the west this morning but it’s another gloriously warm and sunny start to the day up here in the capital. The end of summer could well be approaching later on today but sure we’ll continue to enjoy the weather while it’s in it.

Once all of the action that took place over the weekend just gone has been dealt with, the media’s attention will no doubt soon start to turn towards the matches that are set to take place this coming weekend. As is now standard practice within the Mayo camp ahead of championship matches involving us, our pre-match press evening was scheduled for well in advance of the game itself and so it has already come and gone. The event took place in Breaffy last Thursday evening which means that all the pre-match quotes from James and whichever of the players were roped into media duties for the occasion that you’ll be reading about over the coming days have already been imparted to the Fourth Estate.

Colm Gannon of the Mayo Advertiser last night provided the first report on what James had to say at Breaffy and, as was the case ahead of the Galway match, the manager wasn’t going out of his way in the yerra department when discussing his team’s prospects. Instead, James opened with this bullish response to a question asked of him as to whether or not it bothered him that we were now being openly touted as potential All-Ireland champions this year:

Not at all, we’re an ambitious team, we’re looking to be as good as we possibly can and we feel that we have a lot of ability and that’s OK, we’ll take that. We’re making progress and we’re going the right way. So we’re just going to June 16 and see can we take the next step.

James did, however, caution supporters against getting carried away, making the point that it’s “daft” at this juncture to be talking about having the likes of Michael Conroy and Cillian O’Connor back in August when, in reality “we’re not in a Connacht final … never mind an All Ireland quarter-final”.  As James rightly says, the only match we should be thinking about is the one we have to play next but he also reckons that this kind of chatter shouldn’t get to the players, whom he says are “smart guys that just can see through that”.

On the injury front, James confirms that Barry Moran “is close to being back” as is Jason Doherty, with Shane McHale, Michael Walsh, Evan Regan and James Burke all pushing strongly for inclusion in the team to face Roscommon. He’s less upbeat about Andy Moran, saying that the captain is “still a bit off the pace and has a bit of work to do”, though he does add that Andy is “making progress at an alarming rate”.

On Sunday’s opponents, James points to their low concession rate and reckons that “they are a hard team to score against and hard team to play against”. He also believes that the Rossies will have watched the Salthill slaughter closely and “will have a lot of plans in place as a result of that” but also he feels that we’re capable of making further progress on the performance against Galway:

The Galway game was a start it was a good kick off to our championship, but that’s all it was, was a start and you have to build on that. If you want to be successful you have to build on every single training session, every single game that you play and that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to be better in certain areas than we were against Galway and see where that takes us.

I can see that statement being interpreted in different ways over the coming days. One reading of it could be that James is looking to see his side inflict even greater carnage on the Rossies than that which we meted out to Galway but I’m not sure that’s what he was getting at at all. Instead, I’d prefer to see it as a call for our lads to cut out the kind of poor play witnessed in Salthill, such as those aimless long-range balls we too often pumped into no-one in particular in the full-forward line and the easy way that we conceded primary possession on a number of occasions from Hail Mary balls sent into our own full-back line. We have to improve on both areas if we’re to live up to our exalted billing this year and the time to start showing this improvement has to be next Sunday.

No word, of course, as yet from James about the team he expects to field against Roscommon. I’d expect to see fairly minimal change from Salthill and it could well be that the only alteration to that starting fifteen will be the one enforced by Cillian’s absence. There’s a fair old queue building for that jersey at this stage but I guess it’ll be Wednesday at least before we know more on that score.

34 thoughts on “Bullish Horan aiming for further progress this weekend

  1. Can’t wait for this match! It will be interesting to see if this team can continue to play at a high tempo. If they do, Ross will stay with them for a time, but eventually will run out of options and gas. I expect Mayo to be picking off points and banging in goals at a fairly good clip from the 55’th minute on.
    If we are serious All-Ireland challengers, then we must dispatch of weak opposition with ease. Anything less would be disappointing.

  2. Probally James horan will make changes, I’d say, too much talent on the bench not to in my opinion. IF and’s its a BIG “IF” all goes to plan he will almost for certain make changes, very little is nailed down on this team, no ones place is secure. in addition its going to be virtually impossible to keep out a fully fit, Andy and Barry Moran, Cillian when he returns hopefully fit and well, not to mention the man every minute on the pitch for last 2 years for the county has been 5 star, Richie Feeney. Then take into account Chris Barrett exellent troughout the league plus our best foward during the league Micky Conroy. I dont believe the panel has any idea what team will be named to start. These players if fully fit (in my opinion) are set to start, the rest is up for grabs. Clark, Higgins, Cafferkey, Keegan, Vaughan, Boyle , Aiden O,Shea, Dillon,McLoughlin and Varley. If i,m right (no gauruntee of that either) that leaves 5 places to be fought for interesting to say the least!

  3. Whatever weaknesses JH has as a manager his ability to deal with the media isn’t one of them. He’s always direct, ambitious, positive and decisive, the way his team should play.
    He has players pushing for places on every line which keeping training sessions lively, hopefully McHale, Regan and Coen will get the start on Sunday. Like Galway Roscommon won’t be able to live with the intensity levels.

  4. Good piece and decent comments by all.

    We are in a somewhat unique position it seems that while we would like to win,we do not want to win all that well just yet and we probably need a decent game.

    Challenge matches become less useful as teams fall by the wayside – training ground intensity is where it is at.

    There is a lot of competition for places but a lot of these are of the same standard and its hard to judge what that standard actually is.

    I expect no changes at the start but expect to see five subs come in whatever way the match is going.

    I have some doubts over the team and I hope I am wrong. I do think Seamie needs a good game against good opposition and I remain to be convinced of Varleys worth against the best. He has shown great signs I accept and hopefully he will continue to improve.

    I worry about Vaughan and Cuniffe – Vaughan great going forward but often loose and Cuniffe has failed to deliver before. Again I would love to be proven wrong on both counts.

    I do feel for all that there is something different and special about this team. It might just- might- be the one to deliver given the powerful subs we have and given that the pendulum has to be in synch with our hopes sometime.

  5. Good level-headed analysis and I’m glad to see Horan keeping the focus firmly on next Sunday. There’s no harm at all in being confident as long as that confidence is managed, not hyped and is channelled into good solid play against what will more than likely be a tricky opposition. Never mind big-score maulings, they will do us no good in the long run and games like this are where we need to be using the ball intelligently, tightening up on sloppy play, cutting back on wasted balls and hanging onto possession. Looking forward to a good contest on Sunday and hopefully looking towards Game Three after that.

  6. and also, for those in the US and Canada, its live on Premium Sports online beginning @ 11 AM eastern Sunday.

  7. Thanks, just in case the private jet can’t get me to Mchale park on Sunday I like to have a plan b

  8. Looking over the Roscommon results Fermanagh scored 2-12 against them this year likewise with Meath and they only drew with Wicklow. I don’t think it will do Mayo much good if the next two games are as comfortable as that game in Salthill, going into Croker without a test isn’t the best preparation and in fairness to Sligo,Roscommon they have given Mayo a game the last two years and those games brought Mayo on to produce their best against Cork,Dublin.

  9. Refreshing comments from the gaffer. . . the old clichés that his predecessor came out with…..well eventually I stopped reading them.

  10. as already stated great piece WJ,

    good to see JH with a level head, but reading last week that the team are level headed going into this game I dont know about that, how can they be after that thrashing in salthill and in my opinion a good league, i still think the green and red will beat the sheepshaggers by a good margin and win Connacht fairly comfortably

    and after that we need a bit of luck in the 1/4’s like we had last year

    i dont know about ye but i get a nice tingle when i say we can do it this year, never had it b4

    up mayo

  11. Word to the wise not to get too ahead of ourselves by being concerned about going into Croker without a test. All that matters right now is next Sunday. I certainly hope our players are thinking of nothing else or we could very easily find ourselves in the same situation as the Tipp hurlers. Up Mayo !!

  12. It won’t be ideal if we don’t get tested properly in the next two matches, but (apart from facing each other) neither do Cork and Kerry nor Dublin until they meet Meath/Kildare.
    Ulster is the only province with more testing provincial opposition.
    All they are concentrating on at the moment is to win first and foremost.
    In the absence of fear of complacency they set themselves scoring targets and concession targets.
    That’s why JH always talks about the overall performance.
    I would imagine 18-22 scores versus 10-12 conceded is what he is looking at in Games 1,2 and 3. Goal chances to be dispatched if they are on.
    If we win on Sunday and go into the Connacht final with the same mindset I don’t see complacency being a problem.
    Then he will re-calibrate for the quarters.
    That was one of Kieran Shannon’s key points when he wrote for the Tribune for any successful team – setting targets. With JH’s work background. they are reading from the same page.
    Coping without Andy last year and possibly Cillian this year is all part of the Risk Management.
    I never expect him to say anything in the media briefings apart from sticking to the plan.
    I would expect a 6 point win at the least

  13. I very much like James approach to the issue of being favorite as it is much more realistic than the old “we’ll be happy with a one point win” and the emphasis on performance and improvement helps keep players grounded.
    I cannot see a cakewalk like 2009 as this Roscommon team is much more hardened but give reasonable weather I would expect a clear win leaving no room for ifs, buts and hard luck stories. But a day like 2011 can make it much more difficult and there is no better team than Ross to take you down to their level given help with bad weather.
    Whatever chance there is of a hard test before August – apologies James for the optimism – I expect an easy enough Connacht Final. Leitrim connections tell me their team is imploding with four players – all of whom should expect to be playing – dropped for some indiscipline issue. It’s quite possible that it could be a Mayo London CF and I don’t think Mayo will have entirely forgotten Ruislip 2011. I’m told that if it is London the Isle of Man are looking for the final as a neutral venue! That could even it up.

  14. Leitrim are coddin themselves. Discipline? Really. They have bare resources as it is besides running lads away that they need. London could very well give them a game, lots of lads have moved to London with this economic trouble so somebody has to benefit. New York are totally different, frozen ground or snow and nobody to practice against during training, so Leitrim may be thinking they are better than they actually are and underestimate London.
    What odds on a London Roscommon final? That would get us into a fair ould twist!!
    With all our talk!
    I watched the 2009 mayo Ross game on YouTube recently, can’t figure out how mayo could go that clear before Ross got a score but they were clear on goal several times and o malley worked miracles to stop the shots. I hope Clark’s not asked to perform miracles this Sunday

    Is Donie shine out for sure? What happened him?

  15. I see Leitrim beat Armagh by 9 points and lost to Meath by 2 in recent challenges they should take care of London at home.

  16. Cillian is a big loss,general play and frees,team will have up their game from the Galway game to win on Sunday. Mayo are also vulnerable after the big winning margin in Salthill, complacency could set in. Talking of August is foolish,one game at a time.
    Tipperary were 2/9 favourites yesterday, Limerick had not beaten Tipp in six years. We can never forget London in 2011 (we were a division 1 team then also)

  17. I think Coen will start. Coen,Freeman and Varley in the FF. Kevin Mc, Dillon and Carolan in HF is my guess. As you were vs Galway then. Expect Barry, Doc and Andy to be on from the bench as some time in the game. Richie and James Burke to be on if things are going arseways.

  18. Shine has a hamstring problem on and off since January. Poorly managed, as he has not been given adequate time to rest.

  19. Hello, some interesting analysis of the match on the Mayo News.

    Donie Shine has a hamstring injury and is by no means a certain non-starter.

  20. Could all bloggers take a listen to the Mayo News podcast on which Johnny Tobin and John Prenty have some very interesting things to say about the strengths of the Roscommon team?

    It’s here: http://tinyurl.com/jwk3txp

    A lot of food for thought there; perhaps even a reality check for those already booking the Burlo.

    I think Roscommon will be very dangerous and, as I said before, if the players start believing the careless talk, we will be found out.

  21. I have to say I love James Horan’s handling of the media.
    No bullshit, no poor mouth, just a refreshing honesty and focus.

    I can’t tell you how much I used to dread any word uttered from JOM, some of the stuff was borderline insulting to peoples intelligence.
    With James you kind of always sense an underlying confidence without being cocky.
    He knows better than anyone what this team is capable of, but he’s still respectful of any opposition we face.

  22. besides the obvious jh won’t change a team who scored so well against galway. between coen and feeney for cillian. based on the 2 recent challenge games richie was no 11 so …..jh mantra is consistent keep it simple, then play yourself in and out.

  23. catcol – great podcast. Should be listened to and heeded but as I have already said “so many are talking so much shite!!!”

  24. I’ve read almost everything that’s been written about the match with Roscommon and yes catcol, I also listened to the Mayo News Podcast and nothing I’ve read or heard changes one iota my view about the outcome of the match – Mayo to win by four or five points.

    I have complete confidence in how James Horan and the team are preparing for this game and a line from Anne-Marie’s very balanced piece further up the page “There’s no harm at all in being confident as long as that confidence is managed,” best sums up what I think will be our approach to Sunday’s game.

    Make no mistake Roscommon are a very good side and will be as well prepared as they can be and will feel they have a right good chance of causing an upset, but this is a very different Mayo team to yester-years and over the seventy minutes of football the team with the best players and the most experience will prevail…….

  25. Joe Mc,catcol et al -if ye think that after 3 years,100s of training sessions,team bonding sessions,matches,and the Horan mantra being drummed into their psyche ,that this team would be swayed by ditch hurlers like ourselves on this site, then ye aren’t giving them much credit.The hype with the Dunnies last year was in overdrive for a month,yet it was water off a ducks back where the team were concerned.We have tried the softly softly approach last year-did it make a difference…..I used to worry about hype,but now I sit back and enjoy the ride!!.Its what we do so don’t lie awake at night and put your trust in the Kiwi from South Island!

  26. Lets hope that Sunday is fine. As well as wanting to win the game it should be a great experience. Leave on time and arrive early get a few choc ices, read the programme and admire the colours and the characters. Roscommon supporters are great – even the lads behind the goal who think they are jackeens. Dont rush home afterwards stay and celebrate a win or look forward to the back door. Bring a ball have a kick around. The game is taped on sky. The Sunday game is taped as well in case we are ‘delayed’ getting home.

  27. At 31, am I too old to bring a ball and stick one over the bar after the game? Or would it be bad of me to rob the kids ball and go on a solo run and burst the net? Can’t wait for Sunday!! For me it will be a tight game with Mayo pulling away near the end. Mayo by 5pts. Mayo forever!!

  28. Roscommon team named:

    Darren O’Malley, Neill Collins, Niall Carty, Seánie McDermott, David Keenan, Niall Daly, Conor Daly, Kevin Higgins, Michael Finneran, Conor Devaney, Karol Mannion, Cathal Cregg (capt), Donal Smith, Senan Kilbride, David O’Gara.

    whats the thoughts?

  29. inexperienced and could have done with a few more St Brigids players starting. None of their forwards will score what Shine scored in 2011.

  30. opt2misteek – I honestly hope I am a mile wrong. I do feel Mayo should win but I have seen the results of complacency so often that I would always advise caution.

  31. Agree with Joe Mc.

    The issue is a psychological one. If 100 people keep telling you that you are the greatest and if a few question that, whom would you believe?

    And if you are a 25 year old, or younger (or a few years older), why wouldn’t you think you are great if everyone keeps telling you that.

    If you had All-Irelands under your belt you could be forgiven, but if you have won one championship game, then this praise is much too early. When we beat Galway in 2011, we didn’t think too much of our players – and that stood to them.

  32. Great points there fattyboom!

    Andy, regarding a possible Connacht final between lets say, Mayo and London, surely your joking about the Isle of Man as a venue ? Any truth to that?

    If indeed it turns out to be Mayo and London, if its not in Castlebar, then the Connacht council should have it played in Croke Park. It would be a win win, Mayo win the match and the exiles get a day out on Croke Park’s hallowed turf and the biggest of stages.

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