Mayo manager James Horan. Ryan Byrne/INPHO
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Horan: 'Outrageous' not to allow full panel into games and players 'are being taken for granted'

The Mayo manager also admitted his surprise at Mickey Harte’s decision to take over Louth.

JAMES HORAN HAS backed calls for the GAA to allow full panels attend county games as the championship nears its conclusion.

In what has become a hot topic in recent weeks, extended panel members are being left at home as current Covid-19 restrictions mean only 26 players are allowed enter GAA stadiums for games.

After the Munster hurling final, Limerick boss John Kiely said he was “offended” that 10 of his players were unable to get inside Semple Stadium for the game.

“I know it was John Kiely that raised it and we’ve been saying it for quite a while, not allowing the [full] panel to go to games, it is outrageous to be honest,” said Horan.

“I think the players, to a certain extent are being taken for granted, I really do, in a lot of things. We’ve guys that have given a decade and, for some of them, more.

“It may be their second [last] or last time going to Croker or whatever so to have trained all year, giving everything and for them not to be allowed into a venue, it’s outrageous really. It genuinely is.”

As Mayo’s All-Ireland semi-final against Tipperary will take place after the country is due to move out of Level 5, the restrictions for squad numbers may be eased by then.

“Hopefully, there is murmurings it’ll be changed for the semi-final,” said Horan. “We’ll be out of Level 5 but even with Level 5, to be honest there’s a lot of guys with yellow bibs that are hanging around a lot of stadiums.

“There’s obviously protocols that need to be place for sure but you can’t tell me that we can’t have 10 players, that have given a huge amount, [with proper] social distancing in all those stadiums as well. I don’t get it so I think it’s key for an All-Ireland semi-final that full panels [be allowed to attend].

“It’s a killer for some guys. It’s an absolute killer to be honest.”

Since returning to the hotseat in 2019, Horan has handed out 19 debuts as he ushered a host of talented youngsters into the team.

He admitted it has led to some difficult conversations with the older guard, who served him so well during his initial four-year spell in charge.

Household names such as Seamus O’Shea, Colm Boyle, Keith Higgins and Tom Parsons have been reduced to peripheral figures in the squad.

But Horan said their attitude remains first class even if they’ve struggled for game-time since the restart. 

“Well the guys you mentioned there and there’s a few others are guys of the highest calibre you could possibly meet,” he stated.

“They’re looking to drive it on. They’re competitive in every training session, every drill that they’re in and they’re looking to drive it on.

“Players have very good instinct of who’s playing well and where things are at and they’ll be the first, they genuinely are, to congratulate guys or wish guys well, whether they’re new or whatever, that are on the matchday 26.

“In the GAA context they’re complete pros and top quality guys. Of course it’s difficult discussions but they’re such calibre of guys that it’s not really a long-term or there’s no residue left as a result.”

The Mayo boss ruled Jason Doherty, Brendan Harrison and James McCormack out of the last four clash due to injury, but said the rest of the squad “are in pretty good shape”. 

Meanwhile, he admitted his surprise at Mickey Harte’s decision to take over Louth, just 10 days after departing the Tyrone job.

“I just know Mickey through coming up against him a few times, phenomenal service he’s given to Tyrone, right through minor all the way up.

“To go straight into another county, it wouldn’t be for me now. I said it before, I wouldn’t manage another county in any case in football.

“It wouldn’t be for me but it just shows you the phenomenal drive that man has, to go straight in, not even to take a breather. One way of looking at it is that it’s phenomenal but it wouldn’t be for me.”

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