Photo: Irish Independent
I know that awards of this kind often don’t mean all that much in the grand scheme of things but I think it’s right and proper that James Horan, who led the line so well for us as Mayo manager for four unforgettable years, should be honoured with the Mayo Person of the Year award.
From a football perspective, he took us from a very bad place in 2010 to the very gates of Heaven and while it will always be a sense of regret to all of us – and, one suspects, even more so to James himself – that his team didn’t seal the deal in 2012 or 2013 (or, indeed, last year as well), it’s unquestionably the case that he transformed our standing as a footballing power within the county during his time in charge. There was heartbreak, for sure, on the big days but James certainly gave the county plenty to smile about, at a time when there was precious little else to be upbeat about in this country, and for that alone he deserves this award.
As others have said in the comments over the last few days, though, his greatest legacy could well prove to be how he changed our collective mindset, sweeping away memories of the disastrous 2004 and 2006 whippings and the negative, hang-dog demeanour of the Johnno II era, replacing it with a far more more confident outlook. That we didn’t ultimately get where James wanted to take us can’t be airbrushed out of the story but, for my money, the ride he took us on is one I’ll always treasure as a Mayo supporter.
If we do reach the Promised Land at some point soon, the praise will of course rightly go to those who manage to get us over the line. But if this happens – which it may never do, though I earnestly hope it does – at least some of the credit will also have to be attributed to those who went before and who helped lay the foundations for success. James may not have got us there but he left a rich legacy for his successors to build on and if the lads do manage to reach the top of the summit, that legacy will be a large part in the ultimate story of success.