There’s been loads of media coverage today following this morning’s interview by Tommy Marren on Midwest Radio with James Horan. It’s the manager’s first public utterances since All-Ireland final day so it’s little wonder that what he had to say was widely reported in the media and also that the interview itself has been closely listened to by many.
Even if you haven’t listened to the interview itself – which is definitely worth your time – you’ll most likely have got the gist of it by now, with most of the main themes covered in those pieces linked above.
On the whole, I felt that it was a positive, upbeat interview. Most of the focus was on everything swirling round the All-Ireland loss rather than the details of the defeat itself, which wasn’t surprising as it wasn’t a sports interview.
In that respect, I think Tommy Marren did a good job. He set his stall out right at the start by outlining all the issues he wanted to cover and cover them he did.
James dealt well with the first no-nonsense question, about the supposed rift with Ciaran McDonald and James Burke, and while I felt the manager over-egged slightly his incredulity about some of the wild stuff being said – some of which was, let’s not forget, being said here on the blog too in strident terms by a few who haven’t been so vocal of late – he succeeded in tamping down decisively all the post-final chatter of an irreparable rift in the management team.
There was surprisingly little said about the end of season review. Tommy didn’t really probe this point at all, while James, quite reasonably, was able to say that it made sense for him to conduct the review before talking to the media. He could – and maybe should – have been pressed harder on this issue but it never happened.
He was, as you’d expect, strong in dealing with the social media issue – his well-prepped Churchill quote was deftly delivered and hit the mark nicely – but less sure when talking about player sponsorship deals and all that. He did, though, make the very valid point about all the work Aidan O’Shea does in the community, work that those all too willing to hurl brickbats at him would never acknowledge.
It was when the discussion skirted round the fringes of the match itself that I felt James came across less well. His bewilderment about the team not being capable of performing for seventy minutes this year was difficult to comprehend, his point about young players ‘tightening up’ on final day was wide of the mark and his now well-worn shtick about learning from the defeat grated more than a little bit.
The plan to hold a combine in mid-November – where, James said, the management team wanted to see the talent that’s out there and “get them in” – was, though, welcome news, as was his obvious enthusiasm to get back out on the training ground once again with the players.
Tommy made a late effort to toss a curve ball at him by asking James if next year is his final one in the hot seat but the manager saw that one coming a mile away and batted it away without any fuss.
I felt the interview drew a line decisively enough under everything that’s gone on this year, especially all the wild stuff since the final. That’s good and it’s well overdue because, as the saying goes, anger isn’t a policy. And, Lord knows, we’ve all encountered more than enough anger at this stage in the wake of this latest All-Ireland defeat.
In that regard, it’s good to start to put distance between us and the Tyrone defeat and to begin to look to next year. Today’s interview certainly helps in that transition.
If you haven’t listened to the interview yet, it’s available on SoundCloud – just hit the button on the player below.