The feature by Christy O’Connor in today’s Irish Independent about Richie Feeney and the extract from the interview by Mike Finnerty in the Mayo News with James Horan have already been mentioned in the comments but both are worthy of further discussion.
The piece on Richie – which is here – is at one level a lovely, elegiac reflection on family connections, dwelling as it does on the tragic death of Richie’s father Ger just over three years ago. But it’s also an interesting addition to the post-All-Ireland Mayo GAA literature as Richie categorically denies any suggestion of a bust-up between him and James Horan in the days leading up to the final – he says squarely that all rumours to this effect are “completely untrue” – and while expressing disappointment at not having featured against Dublin he manfully states “you have to respect the manager’s decision.”
What’s really uplifting, though, is what he has to say about the team’s prospects for next year and their absolute determination to keep driving on until they finally achieve the goal that we all want to see this group attain. I’d be the first to admit that my own belief in our ability to get over the line has been pretty much on the floor since September but my spirits fairly rose this morning when I read this:
I don’t think the defeat is going to have that much of an effect on us. This group of players are just so driven that we are not going to give up until we get there. I don’t see any reason why we can’t win next year’s All-Ireland.
We lost two county finals with the club before we eventually won it. It could take one or two more All-Ireland finals with Mayo before we win one. But we will get there.
While we have lads like Richie in our ranks, we’ve got to have confidence in our ability to do so.
In the same vein, James Horan’s interview with the Mayo News – which is here (this is just a taster, the full interview will be in next Tuesday’s paper) – contains plenty of fighting talk about 2014.
This is James’ first in-depth interview since the final and so he’s also taken the opportunity to hit back firmly at all the empty chatter that was swirling about the place in the aftermath of the final. Having had my comment moderation hard hat on here pretty much 24/7 for a few weeks after the final, I can empathise fairly well with James on this and I’m not surprised that he’s let rip in the way that he has, labelling much of the stuff that was being trotted out as “complete and utter rubbish.”
He talks about the effect that all this babble has had on the players – stating that some were “devastated” by it – before caustically stating the following:
I wish there was more noise during the game than what I ever heard after it.
I know some people might think that the way I moderate the site here, in particular by the way I try to ensure that criticisms voiced of players and management are measured and by refusing to give a platform to unsubstantiated rumours, can be a pain in the arse at times. James’ comments above, however, make me more determined than ever to persevere with this approach. As I keep saying, they’re our lads and as supporters what we need to do is support their efforts on the field. Criticise specifics, for sure, but leave the other stuff out of it.
Anyway, back to James who clearly didn’t do the interview just to have a pop at all and sundry. Like Richie, what James has to say about the year to come is encouraging. He admitted that the defeat to Dublin was a ‘very big hit’ but it’s clear his focus is now squarely on the future:
The players have been determined and focused over the last three years and I would say, even at this stage, before we get back at it again, they’ve never been more focused or more determined to drive on.
And it’s obvious that James still has great belief in his players and their ability to push on in 2014:
There’s real power in the group, in the unit. It has absolute potential to get a lot better. 2014 is a big year, a big challenge for us, and we’ll go foot to the floor for it.
The full interview with James will appear in next week’s paper and it’s clearly one not to be missed.