Thanks for the memories, James

James Horan’s decision to bring the curtain down on an eight-year spell – spread evenly over two four-year tenures – as Mayo manager comes hot on the heels of yesterday’s All-Ireland quarter-final loss to Kerry. That defeat had all the hallmarks of the ending of an era about it and with this afternoon’s announcement, those sentiments have crystallised into hard fact.

When James left the post for the first time in 2014 – also after a loss to Kerry but in very different circumstances, following that combustible night in Limerick – it felt very much as if he’d gone too soon. In his first four years, James had utterly altered the narrative around the Mayo team and had set his sights on goals most of us didn’t believe were achievable. He wanted us at the top table and his aim was to keep us there, year after year.

This time round, even though, like his first coming, he led us to two All-Ireland final appearances in four years, his parting seems like the right move at the right time. James is a man who has taken us so far in his years in charge, to say nothing about his significant contribution as a player before that, but this year in particular it really did look as if he’d taken us as far as he could.

Circumstances this year surely didn’t help. Our crippling injury list meant that plans constantly had to be rejigged and over the last number of months the hits just kept on coming on that score. The lack of key players definitely weakened us this year but, as yesterday showed, we had other issues which meant we weren’t operating at the level we were capable of playing at.

There’s a time for everything and, indeed, for everyone. In his time, James gave us so many good days and was central to the new Mayo narrative that became so much part of the Championship story over the past decade. Like all those warriors who played for him, James surely deserved to have tasted ultimate success as Mayo manager but, of course, sport isn’t like that. Mayo supporters, of all people, know that.

As he steps away, though, James does so knowing that he’s left the place in a far better position than he found it. We might all be down today, out of the final four for just the second time in ten years, but that statistic alone tells the tale of how much James achieved in his time in charge.

But that time is now over. As it ends, it’s only fitting to pay fulsome tribute to the man who, in his own words, sought to make us consistently competitive and, in doing so, gave us some of the greatest days any of us have experienced as supporters of the Mayo team.

Thanks for everything, James, for all those wild, crazy days when following your team felt like the essence of being alive. Those are memories to be treasured and times we’ll all recall fondly. Best wishes to you and your family for the future. Up Mayo.

76 thoughts on “Thanks for the memories, James

  1. As a great mayoman, he felt the hurt of defeat by tyrone more than anyone. He did great to keep us up there in 2022 despite all the setbacks. Handing over with mayo football in a good place. Go and write the book James, what a story you have to tell…..

  2. James Horan was a great player for Mayo and changed so many things for the good of Mayo football as Manager but it is now time to give someone else a chance.
    Thank you James.

  3. Well done Willie Joe
    There is a tinge of sadness in hearing this but also a sense of inevitability following this season failing to ignite. I think after pretty much over 2 years without much of a break reached 2 AI finals and a league final, the injuries, no proper pitch to train for the league ( no fault of James) it must be exhausting on him and indeed the team . He owes Mayo nothing both as a player and a manager and as articulated built two teams and kept us competitive . We wish, his family the very best of luck and thank him very much for the joy he helped bring to us Mayo mad people!

  4. I echo was has been said above . The end of another chapter in Mayo Gaa and the beginning of a new one .

  5. Well said Wille Joe, he leaves the county and our jersey in a much much better place than when he started.

  6. Thank James for all the great day you brought us following mayo football a great mayo man so unfortunate not to get us over the line you had kept mayo football at the top table all best in the future james

  7. Mayo’s greatest ever manager. Coming out of Croker yesterday there was certainly an end of an era feeling about it. For both players and management. Certainly there was a flatness to this season’s campaign where we never really managed to get going. But even with all the injuries and problems throughout the year we still managed to drag ourselves into an All-Ireland Quarter Final in which we were competitive well into the second half. There is a lot to be hopeful about in the years to come. A fresh injection of new blood and management and see where it takes us.

  8. Thanks and all the best to James for the future. Unfortunately he appears to have been a victim of his own high standards and expectations. Two Connacht titles, an NFL and two final appearances would be lauded in the vast majority of counties but we are now in a world where it’s Sam or failure. Now that’s now bad thing…everyone in Mayo from players to fans now demand the best. James can be thanked for setting standards and nothing less should be tolerated.

    I know it’s a cliche but the next appointment is the most important yet. We need to get it right.

  9. Best wishes to James and thanks for all the memories, some brilliant day’s out. Mayo certainly delivered some fantastic displays under his leadership.. Yesterday result had an inevitable feeling to it ,up until Mayo actually played quite well in the first half, but the second half for Mayo is best forgotten…His post match interview yesterday, the body language suggested he might just call it a day. Thanks for all the effort, James and his management team, and also thanks to the player’s..It wasn’t the the lack of effort.. Hope everyone involved with the Seniors gets a chance to chill and enjoy life outside of football for a spell.

  10. Thanks James – you did Mayo proud.

    I don’t know how any player plays for Mayo considering all the abuse received on social media.

    Keyboard yellow bellies / people who failed to even play their club, more than likely.

    How these cowards can criticise AOS after his service to the county is disgraceful.

  11. Willie Joe:

    “Thanks for everything, James, for all those wild, crazy days when following your team felt like the essence of being alive. Those are memories to be treasured and times we’ll all recall fondly”

    Amen.

  12. Míle Buíochas a Seamus! Thanks for everything you’ve done with Mayo football and for giving us many many great days out supporting our County in Croke’r and elsewhere. Such happy memories and Mayo football in a consistent ‘Top 4’ position.
    Thanks & Good Luck!

  13. Losing last year’s final was huge and it felt different. It utterly deflated just about everyone, myself included. We weren’t so much beaten by Tyrone as threw the damn thing away. Failing to convert great goal chances sucked the life out of us in a similar way to yesterday. It was the real end, not yesterday. It would have been impossible for our lads to pick themselves up fully following that. Perhaps that was the time for James to go – there wasn’t any hope after that. The fact that we secured Div 1 football and got to a quarter final says a lot about our character.
    Fresh start!

  14. Completely agree with comments above. What James instilled was belief….belief we were a top tier team, competing for the top prize every year. What a journey we have been on with him at the helm. Thank you for the hours, dedication, passion and no doubt heartbreak you endured to bring so much joy and entertainment to us mad Mayo fans. Big boots to fill but such is sport and the new manager is picking up the mantle from a good foundation.

  15. WJ I really love the phrase you used “following your team felt like the essence of being alive” How true. Those wonderful Saturdays and Sundays getting up, going with family and friends to games, meeting old acquaintances, hitting the road for Dublin, Galway ,The Hyde, Castlebar, even Limerick . The joy and thrill of the stands and terraces, the unbelievable highs, the horrendous lows, the pride in being from Mayo, Possibly the most talked about team in the country, the clashes with the aristocracy of Gaelic football where we more than held our own. That was living life to the full and not many counties had the roller coaster experiences we had.And so much of that was down to James Horan. When I left the pitch in Longford in June 2010 I honestly wondered when I would be in Croke Park again to see Mayo. Little did I think we would be back Year after year multiple times. So thanks a million for all you did for countless Mayo supporters. Your contribution won’t be forgotten.

  16. So sorry to see James leave at this point. I still believe if he had even a half decent break on the injuries front Mayo could have won the big prize. His first stint came to an end in Limerick at the hands of probably the worst refereeing performance I have ever witnessed. His second after 2 covid years, lack of training facilities and an injury list that was beyond comprehension. It’s sport and we move on and hopefully Sky will snap him up again as a pundit. Thanks for everything James.

  17. A lovely tribute WJ to James. A huge servant as a player and manager to Mayo football. So near and yet so far!
    A sad day for Mayo football but he has set the standard for the future for sure.
    Go neiri le Seamus Horan agus a clann i gconai agus mile buiochas do gach rud a rinne se!
    Mhuigeo Abu !

  18. Respect to a legend who brought us back to the Top Table and kept us there ever since. Serious Commitment for a family man, good luck James you deserve it.

  19. James Horan has made an enormous contribution to Mayo football. I’m very sad to see him go, and will always be grateful for what he did for us. He and these lads have given us some of the very best days. There were times I simply floated from/between/to games. In time we’ll realise how special that was.

    We continue in search of the holy grail, but we need to remind ourselves that it’s really not all about that piece of metal. It’s much more than that.

    Good luck to James and his family. He’s earned a break from the inter county maelstrom.

  20. Yes, I also remember JH as a person of great character. I am sure his children will be happy to go to matches with Dad.

    He represented his County admirably as did all the players. They will always be able to meet up and discuss the present state of Mayo football. Boyler and himself might be hosting the Sunday game.

    I had a free read of the Western People last week and, Mark Ronaldson mentioned all the work James had done in building a new strategy for Mayo football.

    One can only imagine all the difficulties there is in managing a County team. Yet, he always remained calm ln victory or defeat while speaking the truth.

    I am sure he has the respect of the whole Country.

    One more year, James please. If not, may you always be such a good, and likeable person.

    Ciarán 2.

  21. The good days far outweighed the bad days that’s for sure , but he has made the right call ( although a 12 month too late) for both himself and the county.

  22. Thanks.

    What more can be said about a man who took us from the Longford saga to being the victim of his own success where each and every decision was poured over and the trolls were out in force on social media. Who would even apply for the job of manager, we have become akin to the animals Paidi described.

    I remember one of the podcasts where Kevin McStay talked about how bad mayo football was and how much they underperformed during his time. James said and delivered on his promise to make us competitive. He has developed a fierce amount of players and taking them to levels they may not have believed they could reach. I particular like the Seamie story about marking Cavanagh and the way James nonchalantly told him he would be marking him even though Seamie was struggling for form. He said it filled him with confidence – in time we may hear more of the stories.

    Of course, not everything went perfectly, I didn’t always agree with his tactics and players may not have always agreed with him either but I struggle to manage a team in work of three, never mind a panel of forty so I can only imagine the stress that would entail!

    He has given us such tremendous memories following this great team. Whilst I cringe at it, mayo4sam was never “a thing” until James turned up. The pride in the county lifted to new heights with each passing year – I’m sure this site reflects that trend alone as the bandwagon picked up pace.

    We have been close, time and time again and those defeats hurt but looking at what he has left for us with the likes of Mullin, Hession, Flynn, Ruane, Carney, Conroy and ROD we are in great shape for continued success.

    Hopefully a new voice keeps players like Keegan for another crack at it but that’s for another day.

    Thanks you James and your family and I wish you all the best for the future.

  23. Thanks again James. No one will know how much you have put into Mayo football.
    I know you have a young family and have spent a huge amount of time away from them.
    You can’t kick the ball over the bar when you are manager.
    Why blame him when we can’t kick snow off a rope like yesterday in second half?
    Head up high.
    We will win it someday and thank you for getting us to the top table.

  24. James Horan (as he said himself) took the bullshit out of Mayo football, made us fiercely competitive, admired, feared and most importantly respected all around Ireland and beyond in equal measure. He gave us something that we as supporters almost took for granted – an expectation that we would be up there at the business end every year (something that generations of Mayo fans could never do before 2011). It is such a pity he couldnt get his hands on the holy grail (a bit more luck was all he needed) but I will be forever grateful for the journey and the memories. Thanks for everything James Horan

  25. “James Horan from the halfway line” Still remember that chant from McHale park in late 90’s. Great servant to Mayo Football.

    Hopefully Derry or Galway win this year to get us hope of All Ireland soon.

  26. Thanks for an amazing 11 years .
    We might not have won the bloody thing but we have memories that we’ll cherish for years
    This teams journey took us all over the country +NYC which also became an opportunity for families to gather and spend the day together….PRICELESS
    We owe you more than you can imagine

  27. I’m 66 now, and the last sixth has given me more joy and pride in being a mayoman, Thank you James and your many warriors.
    You have left the ship in fine fettle, again.
    Onward.
    Maigh Eó go deo

  28. Horan brought great interest to Mayo football, my kids in Dublin have had great memories going to Mayo games for over 10 years now, even yesterday I met Second generation people from South Mayo but born in Tipperary supporting Mayo in Croker.

  29. Really like that description too ‘for all those wild crazy days when following your team felt like the essence of being alive’ sums it up for me more than anything what joy James and the team brought to our lives.

  30. Thank you James Horan for everything that you have done for Mayo football as a player, a club manager and a county manager. You have brought the game in this county to a level never seen before and one we may never see again. No doubt we’ll see you back on the sideline around our county grounds in some capacity in the not too distant future.

  31. I would like to wish James well and appreciate what he has done for Mayo football, i think it is the right time for him and for Mayo football for him to step aside. People were commenting on here yesterday saying Kieran Mac has not done much in his coaching role but imo he has not had a big say in style of play and initially we seen a kicking game coming in his first year and then it seemed to be abandoned and we reverted to bow we played in JH first tenure. The feedback on Macs coaching has always been excellent from what i have heard and when he went into the clubs doing sessions players were very impressed. The minor team and forwards we are admiring are the right age to have come through his hands although i don’t know that for sure. If we lose him to coaching in Mayo at whatever level i feel he will pop up with a rival county and it will come bk to haunt us, no disrespect to James Horan but i don’t think a top County will look for him to be their manager in the future because he didn’t get the best out of the team or himself on All Ireland day, he may being taken on in a coaching capacity on a ticket as he has much to offer in that regard. I think Ray Dempsey deserves a shot and people are forgetting Ballintubber did not perform outside of Mayo under JH so i wouldn’t hold that against a future manager that comes from club management.

  32. Best wishes to James Horan. He certainly gave us some great days out i believed he would be the man to bring Sam back to Mayo but alas it wasnt to be. Not sure where we go from here i think to get over the line we need a manager who has been there and has actually won an all Ireland and we need an top class forwards coach

  33. Thank you James. You have done yourself and us proud. Of course you have faults; don’t we all. But you did what you did and didn’t do for the good of Mayo, for no other reason. Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Best wishes to you and your family. Now go on and enjoy yourselves. Enjoy your lives with a lot less pressure, confident of the respect, gratitude and love of those who were privileged to have known and admired you , if only from a distance.
    Up Mayo forever.

  34. Good post Inittilwewinit

    @ Glorydays, we needs top coaches for sure but priority needs to be getting top forward coaches for our 11 to 16 Yr old category. That’s when you produce and mould players. At a senior level it’s about strategy, shape, movement etc. It should be a given that all footballers coming through our underage can kick equally off left and right.

  35. Said this years ago too but James Horan would be an amazing Director of Football. He is fantastic at developing players and maximising individual talent. Let him take a year out but if u had any power in Mayo GAA I’d be knocking him door down to oversee underage development. The key to Mayo’s success lies with maximising our playing pool. Horan is that man.

  36. Over the eight years James Horan was Mayo manager I was looking over the border wall with extreme jealousy. He changed Mayo football to such an extreme high level and put in countless hours to reach the summit. He will go down in History as a great if not the best Mayo manager ever. I hope he enjoys the break and if not on our TV screens maybe he’ll be back on a sideline again in the future.

  37. Horan has transformed Mayo into a serious team that was very unlucky to come up against best ever Dublin team. This team right now is not near as good as the 2017 team, OK we have injuries but we are lacking players in certain areas but he has got the most out of them. And that’s what it comes down to ultimately, players. He’s been chopping and changing his forward line recently looking to find someone to put their hand up and show a bit of form but we are short of top quality forwards.
    We all expected to be beating Tyrone last year but I wouldn’t blame Horan for that either.
    I can’t understand people that put Horan down. It sickens me what short memories people have when you think back to the hammerings we got in previous finals. Horan has done everything possible to get Mayo over the line and make no mistake, he will be hard to replace.

  38. James Horan shouldn’t be left out to grass.
    He is responsible for the consistent improvement of the standards within the senior panel.
    That capability shouldn’t be discarded now.
    If anything, it should be harnessed for a wider remit across the county.

    James profession is quality assurance. Surely a director of football role across the county is needed, with specific plans and KPI’s to be implemented across all county teams and even clubs.
    His game plan fell short, but the high performance culture is something to be maintained and implemented at all levels.

  39. The end of James’s 4 year term was sudden and a bit sad for sure.
    His downfall was no doubt brought about by the failure yet again of the forwards to deliver for him on the big stage.
    For the life of me I fail to understand that while under the guidance of one of the best forwards Mayo has ever produced, Mcdonald was unable to get them working as a unit or improved their shooting.
    Defenders defend and forward win matches. This seemingly has never been the case with Mayo!

  40. James Horan, a man whose team gave the whole country wonderful days. A great motivator that’s for sure. I’m sure the Mayo people are proud of him & his players. What a pity that James & his great players didn’t win the ultimate prize. Personally I thought he shouldn’t have Stepped down in 2014. He had a good young team then & if he had stayed on he probably would have won the All Ireland in 2016. He has made his decision for the good of the county. A fresh voice will bring the young players on in the next couple of years. James might be back again in the future. Plenty of good people to replace him. Hopefully it will be either Ciaran McDonald or Andy Moran, both maybe, one as Manager and the other as Coach. Looking like a Dublin V Galway Final memories of 1974. Best of luck in the future James.

  41. John + McHale @ – it was a disastrous year for our forwards and in my opinion we didn’t get a full season out of all our starting forwards yesterday with the exception of loftus. It is very hard to implement any sort of change to the forward unit when there is 6 different forwards every week.

    10. Jordan Flynn – Broke his ankle and missed 6+ weeks

    11. Diarmuid O’Connor – Missed a Substantial amount of time with Hamstring Injury’s

    12. Conor Loftus – Got a full season under his belt with the forwards.

    13. Kevin Mc – was late joining up with the squad because of club championship

    14. Jack Carney – similar to kev mc was late joining up with the panel because of kilmena run

    15. Cillian – was out injured most the league and from what i gather on a mayo news podcast was limited enough in training.

    James Carr – was out injured most the league.

    Jason Doherty – was coming back from serious injury and picked up a few niggles along the way.

  42. Good luck James in the future. A fantastic manager. .I totally disagree with Mark o shea saying that it’s the end of mayo for a few years…. we were nowhere near full strength on Sunday. James has rebuilt a second team in his 8 years. He leaves mayo in a very good place.

  43. having grown up in 70’s losing connacht final to sligo 80s were better liam o neill brought a great deal of professionalism to the table …but county board failed him…89 was good then 2 crushing defeats to kerry in noughties …after longford debacle james came and gave us a reason to believe …and 4 that we have to be eternally grateful…..god bless him and all his team

  44. I would like to wish James the very best of luck and thank him for all the great days we have had. I hope the Mayo County Board keep him on as a Director of Mayo Football. His ability to identify the young talent in the County is unreal. Jordan Flynn for instance has now become one of the best midfielders in Ireland and in his early days many could not see his talent. All the best James

  45. Dear James.
    There are some beautiful words and heartfelt sadness as you depart.
    I am so grateful to you for sharing your heart for our county. You deserve the gratitude, not just of Mayo people everywhere, but of anyone with a passion for football. The championship, in the past 10 years, would have been a damp squib without Mayo GAA. I’m beyond proud and grateful.
    Thank you, to you and your wife and family. I’ll never forget you. Please God we will all live to see our county get over the line….
    The dream lives on.
    Best wishes James. Thank you. Green and Red forever.
    Maigheo go deo.

  46. Farewell James, a man who gave his heart and soul to Mayo, firstly as a great footballer and secondly as an even better manager.

    He did everything he possibly could to win Sam as both a player and manager and if we, as fans, think we’re disappointed at the non appearance of that cup then James must be devastated.

    He probably should have stayed another year at the end of his first stint as that team had the goods to win it. He deserves great respect for building two teams that competed at the highest level.

    I always thought the Monsignor would get us there but in the end that final step proved frustratingly elusive. Enjoy your retirement James, it’s well deserved and a very big thank you for that decade of heady days.

  47. A great piece WJ. It’s a sad day to be honest, James put everything he could into Mayo winning that elusive All Ireland, like us supporters, that’s all he wanted. What could have been. James has done an awful lot of good for Mayo Football, he has transformed us from a county of also-rans to being one of the top teams in the country. People only need to look back to Longford in 2010 and Derry in 2007 to see how poor and inconsistent we were prior to the Horan eras. It is vitally important that whoever comes in to replace James keeps those high standards, the talent and ambition is there, it’s now time to build on it. Never take a backward step in the journey of getting to the top. We’ll get there eventually and we will have James Horan to thank for building the base.

    Thank you James, enjoy the time away from the demands of Inter County Management. Up Mayo.

  48. James Horan.
    Firstly A truly great Mayo men. A superb coach and unbelievable developer of Mayo players. He put Mayo back on the Map in the GAA and made us the most proudest of Counties. What years we have had, what fond memories of these giants of Mayo Men, Team and Management who gave it their All.
    It’s not a dooms day scenario that James is leaving. This Mayo Squad will win an All Ireland soon. Getting our best forwards back and injecting some fresh players and a New Management Team is the key. The next Manager is now a top priority and it has to be the right choice.
    James leaves with his head held high. I would like to Thank him and his family for their many sacrifices over the past. I would appeal to the MCB to bring James back as a Director of Mayo Football with special emphasis on the development of young players in particular.
    The past 10 years with James as Manager on and off have given All of us hope and enjoyment.
    May we All live to see our Team finally bring Sam Home.
    Thank you James.

  49. The more I think about it, the more I want malachy o’rourke, his record is exemplary across clubs and counties everywhere. Brings success absolutely everywhere he goes.

    Very modern tactician and players love him.

    Malachy o’rourke with 2 good mayo club men beside him as selectors

  50. John+, you point a finger at our forwards, but with 1:18 conceded, our style of defending needs serious attention. Kerry picked off their critical scores with ease in the second half, without experiencing any serious tackles.

  51. It’s gas, the Mayo forwards always get maligned, then you look at our goal concession rate.
    Part of it is tactical, but part of it also is not have enough of the type of defenders Dublin and now Kerry have. It’s come the point where all six defenders need pace. The three full backs at least two need to be out and out stoppers.
    Your half backline have to be good on the ball and muscular.
    We have too many defenders with either a lack of pace, or if they have pace will never be at the footballing skills level to cut down their giving away of the ball.

  52. Best of luck to James in whatever he does next. He dragged us out of the doldrums in 2011 and gave us some epic days in that first run especially .
    I’m a firm believer in never going back however (so not Rochford again either) and I don’t think his second stint was as productive. It is certainly time for new ideas .
    Anyways he has a young family too and has given his county a lot of service so he deserves some time to himself

  53. Will have to be honest, I felt James should have gone last September. The flatness of that performance still hurts. But nonetheless this is still a sad day for Mayo football.

    James has been an amazing servant and ambassador for Mayo football, most certainly our greatest manager of the last 70 years. He brought us to a place that we feel we belong but never managed to do consistently before him. The level or preparation and attention to detail was really something.

    His second coming wasn’t quite as good as the first, we never really put in one of those amazing performances that were common in his first four years but Covid and injuries didn’t help in that regard. There was a 3 month period in 2013 from the point we beat Galway to when Dublin beat Kerry that we were without question the best team in the country – I have never confidently said that before or since about a Mayo team and that says it all about James and his management ability.

    I would love for this not to be the end of his involvement with Mayo. Though I don’t see him managing us again, I would love a role to be created for him in the pathway from minor/u20 to the senior team. James’ ability to bring through players is a credit to him. His talent at making new players to the county team feel comfortable at that level really is something else. It would be great to see him continue to nurture young talent in the county and make sure that we really do have a conveyor belt coming through to our senior team.

    James might not have won the elusive All Ireland but you an be sure that when we do win one, his finger tips will be all over it.

  54. Commiserations on Sunday. As once journalist put it this morning it just seemed like the whole mayo setup: players, management and supporters ran out of juice. I think Horan has made the right decision to step away but, has done a massive job for Mayo across his two stints. He took a team that were a rabble after losing to Longford and made them perennial contenders.

    All in all he deserved to lead Mayo to an AI. But, luck just wasn’t with him. From O’Shea and O’Connor clashing heads in 2014. Philly’s blatant pick off the ground being ignored at the end of the 2015 final I think, the own goals in other finals and the misfortune to be at their peak when the greatest team of all time were at theirs.

    I see there is already talk of Jim McGuinness being the next manager. I don’t know if he would be a good shout to be honest.

  55. I get what your saying Jp in Relation to forwards,
    But I think this year unfortunately it is our real Issue.
    I think James knew this and I don’t think it is improving anytime soon. I hope I’m
    Wrong on that, For sure we have a history of leaking goals over the last decade, both under horan and Rochford.

    Lastly, again all the best to James, will be remembered fondly in years to come, as I think we’re heading into a barren spell for a while.

  56. I also would like to see Stephen Rochford and maybe Ciaren McDonald take over now.
    Maigheo Abu.

  57. James you’ve put pride in the red and green. Thanks for all the high’s, I’ve noting but gratitude for you.

    All the best

  58. Nice summation, WJ.
    The time was right for James to go. It was the end of his second 4 year term and he earned the right to make the call himself, as opposed to the county board (albeit very unlikely they’d have removed him) making the call for him.
    8 years, 6 Connaughts, 4 All Ireland finals, an NFL division 1 title and the restoration of Mayos reputation in the GAA world from being “nice footballers” to absolute beasts on the field and warriors who never gave up. An outstanding All Star forward in his day (I think was it 7 points from play in 2 All Ireland Finals) and undeniably a leader of men, he brought pride and belief back to Mayo football and gave us (along with Rochford it must be said) some of the greatest days out of our lives. Those days helped keep a county and a people going as we came out of those bad recession days and 2013-2014 in particular were years that will live long in the memory. He owes Mayo nothing and in the end, he did all he could to end the famine of All Ireland success.
    On the other side of the balance sheet there was the (in my opinion) flawed, strict, unbending adherence in his beliefs in how he wanted to play the game. A style that became the calling card of Mayo teams and defined an era of football that saw us get ahead of many others in terms of S&C and pure animalistic, ball-breaking, intensity and never-say-die-attitude. That brought us great success, great days out and restored us towards the top table of counties. Ultimately, that era-defining style of football was caught up with by other teams. They got as strong and fit as us, they found a way to defend against our hard running half backs, resulting in us failing to win the big one that we all so despartely crave. James’ style that made us famous in the first place was, in the end, James’ undoing. His unbending, stubborn resistence to work on Plan B and Plan C meant that when Plan A didn’t work, we just ran harder!
    For me, 2018 felt more like the end of an era, the end of great days. That great 2011-2017 team was nearing it’s end, Seamie O’Sheas injuries finished him off, Parsons was never the same and the age of the squad was getting old, together. Today, James has left Mayo football in a very good place. Yes, there will be retirements but more than half the team are <26 and we have great hope for the next few years in our young fringe players – not to mention what MAY come out of our current crop of minors. He oversaw the transition from losing generational players like Andy Moran, Keith Higgins, Chris Barrett, Tom Parsons, Colm Boyle and David Clarke, to keeping us "consistently competitive" by reaching 2 All Ireland finals.
    There might be days of regret like, "why did I leave Kevin Keane on Murphy?", "why didn't I release Higgins from his man-marking duties in those final mad minutes of the 2013 final", "why didn't I get protection around Cafferkey when Donaghy came on in the 2014 AISF?". But against every one of those there will be the memories of the outstanding performances like hammering Galway out the gate in Salthill, ripping Donegal (then All Ireland champions) asunder in the 2013, ending the Dubs reign last year, the 2nd half demolition of Galway in Croker last year, and many, many more.
    I was critical of Horan after last years AIF defeat and won't change my mind in that. My thoughts were laid out on this forum for all to see. Being a manager myself I know that not all plans in the dressing room come to fruition on the pitch and players make mistakes outside of your control. However, he did not evolve his style of play – and by inference, the teams – and once you are not evolving at elite sport level, you are standing still and in effect going backwards in relation to all those around you.
    But, his boots are undeniably very, very big boots to fill.
    Good luck and thanks James. Enjoy getting your life back and thanks for all the memories. There were many!

  59. Smashing post Pebbles. His stubbornness was a major strength initially but it became a major flaw !

  60. I don’t really know if we should be talking about flaws when he has just stepped down but following on from Pebblesmeller and All The Way, in my view his one major flaw (and to most this might not even be a flaw) was his outright and complete faith in his team and his players. He trusted them absolutely to do job for Mayo, even when we all called for double markers, sweepers etc. That hurt us over the years (Murphy 2012, Brogan 2013, Donaghy 2014, McShane 2021) but ultimately it also created an incredible bond between James and his players.

  61. No question about it – James Horan has been Mayo’s greatest ever manager, not just once, but twice. And for all the gripes and grumbles many of us have had over the past year in particular, he, his backroom team and his players (and of course, Stephen Rochford and his backroom team in the interim) gave us some of our greatest days. This journey has enriched some of us in more ways than we would be able to even count and has probably built resilience in us as a county we never knew we were capable of. I would dearly have loved to see him be the one to lead us to that victory but as a supporter I am so grateful, and will never not be impressed by what he achieved, often, it must be said, in spite of what was going on in the background.

    The time was probably right, it’s true. And I hope he enjoys a good break. I would not be surprised to see him crop up in another intercounty management role down the line but it would be a shame to lose his knowledge from the Mayo scene.

    I hope that Mayo GAA county board now realise the gravity of the decision that lies ahead of them, and that they acknowledge their own failures in the past when it comes to managing these decisions and these transitions, which at times has been nothing short of disgraceful. A real measure of maturity and ambition lies in being able to acknowledge your mistakes, and take steps to rectify them and even look to people outside of your inner circle for expertise. This appointment has to be managed professionally and the right people for the job appointed and looked after. There is too much at stake, too much promise and too much talent. The prospect of an All-Ireland is far from dead.

    And while they’re at it, it might not be a bad time to dust down the Strategic Plan of over a decade ago and start putting in place some of the measures included in it that are every bit as relevant today as they were then, when it was consigned to a shelf.

  62. Excellent post, Pebblesmeller.

    In times of sadness and emotion like this, it really does help to find the words that make sense of things.

    And your post has little saplings of growth and positivity in it too.

  63. Hi I am a Louth man, but have been a Mayo fan since 1996, after meeting ? a lovely girl from Clarmoris although we never got married I continued to follow Mayo. I feel so sorry for James. But I’d like to say a very big thank you for the memories

    John Morgan

  64. Great post there by Pebble.

    James Horan did an immense job for Mayo football. It’s a terrible shame he never got us over the line. I honestly feel we were terribly unlucky not to win one under him especially in 2014 when it seemed everything conspired against us that day in Limerick. He has undoubtedly been a tremendously servant to Mayo football and brought a professional ethos which allowed us to compete at the top table year in year out. For that he deserves immense credit.

    I do feel there has been a major change in attitude in the Mayo fanbase since last year’s AI. It feels a lot like that one was the straw the broke the camel’s back for many and James seems to have bore the brunt of that disgruntlement and anger more than most. I remember there was a time when Mayo seemed to be nearly everyone’s second team after their own county but this hasn’t been the case in recent years…I think people got tired of getting emotionally invested in Mayo when AI defeat followed AI defeat so maybe it was inevitable that that disillusionment would filter through to our own fanbase. I think we all need a break from it and hopefully we will support the team with a renewed energy next year. We have had the best of times in recent years and we will have more again.We have some very exciting young footballers and an AI minor final to look forward to. The future is bright. Thank you James.

  65. On a happier note..Thank God that condescending gobshite is gone from the blog. Well done Willie Joe.

  66. Some of the best sporting moments of my life have come watching both of James’ teams. Full of heart, grit, strength and fight. You couldn’t but feel proud of them.

    Two things stand out.

    Overwhelming All-Ireland champions Donegal in 2013, in a ruthless display rarely matched by a Mayo team before or since. Even more so than the run in 2012, that was when we knew this bunch of lads had something most of us had never seen in a Mayo jersey.

    And most of all, Dublin last year. Living away, that weekend was my first time home since Covid. Sharing the madness that descended in the second half across a crowded pub filled with people I’d known my whole life was unforgettable. And then the delicious knowledge that we were going to be the ones to finally topple the Dubs, and, as they flailed wildly at the end of extra time, knowing they knew it too. The joy across the county that night was a lovely, lovely thing.

    You and your team did that, James. Thank you. And the very best of luck with wherever you go from here.

  67. I came across an article from balls.ie online this evening, where they looked at 6 possible candidates for the Mayo job.

    The six were Mike Solan, Maurice Sheridan, Ray Dempsey, Andy Moran, Kevin Mc Stay and Jim McGuinness.
    Straight away, I’d rule out Jim McGuinness,. because I don’t believe he’s interested.
    Unless he changes his mind, Kevin McStay can also be ruled out, because after leaving the Roscommon job a few years ago, he stated that he was retiring from inter county management.

    So that leaves four. Discuss.

  68. I was at Kevin McStays book-signing in An Sportlann a few years ago and he indicated he might make an exception on a management return if it was Mayo!!! Fact.

    I don’t know though, I can’t see him taking it right now.

    I really like Tony McEntee but can’t see him leaving Sligo, especially for another Connaught team. I don’t think that’s the way he’d roll.

    I don’t know who’d be best, I really don’t. Would be nice to see Andy in the backroom team until he gets more experience, but I can’t see him stepping down from his current management role to play second fiddle. Plus, he has yet to prove himself. At least James had strong credentials with his success with Ballintubber.

    The most important competency needed from the new manager is an ability to instill belief in Mayo players on the biggest day of all. Again, I’m out of suggestions right now as to who could achieve this.

    People suggest names like McGuinness and Gavin and those are certainly very credible options. But I truly feel Donegal and Dublin have ‘gotten the best’ of both those guys, to paraphrase a Foo Fighters song. Why would they want to take on the Mayo project with the possibility of failure, especially given where the team are at right now.

    Sadly I don’t share the same optimism that we could potentially be there or thereabouts in the next year or two. It’s a 5 year project I feel. I could be wrong, as there is a core of good young talent there. However, as things stand, I think we’ll struggle to even get to a final in the near future. I think a rebuild is on, with 5 or 6 new players coming in. That’s my honest opinion. But they’ll need developing so the new manager will need to have a track record in this regard.

  69. From outside Mayo, Horan always came across as an intelligent, fair and decent man and his Mayo teams often played with great courage, speed and intensity. They were unfortunate to come up against the great Dublin team last decade. On a negative point, Cillian and Aidan have proven unreliable totems for your forward lines.

  70. Thanks James for all you have done for Mayo football. Remembering where we were in 2010 what he did over the next four years was truly remarkable. I believe this is the right time now to step away, lets just hope the County Board don’t turn the search for a successor into another Mayo soap opera.

    Thanks again James.

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