James Horan celebrates the win. Ryan Byrne/INPHO
Moving On

Horan: 'I try and be as straight as I can. I don’t think Kerry will give two hoots about what I say'

James Horan played down his remarks after the league final when he said Mayo could have beaten Kerry “by 10 or 12 points.”

MAYO’S THREE-POINT win over Galway last night set-up a mouthwatering Super 8s opener against Kerry in Fitzgerald Stadium next Sunday.

Mayo defeated the Kingdom by 3-11 to 2-10 in the Division 1 final on 31 March to seal their first national title since 2001.

In his post-game comments that afternoon, Horan suggested that if Mayo “were as effective as we should be, could’ve won by 10 to 12 points to be honest.” 

Former Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice said recently he was “surprised” by Horan’s claim which was “clunky and careless comment at best.”

When he was asked if Kerry would use Horan’s remark as extra motivation, he responded: “I’m sure Kerry really don’t care what I say, to be honest. I just thought that on the day, we created a lot of goal chances that we didn’t take.

“We took our first two but missed our next three. That was my initial reaction. I try and be as straight as I can. I don’t think Kerry will give two hoots about what I say.”

Fitzmaurice also claimed that Mayo used the “cynical exploitation of the head injury rule when ahead in games.” Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney was unhappy with how little stoppage time was played in their narrow round 3 defeat, citing how Mayo had “10 or 11 head injuries” during the game.

Horan shot down the idea that Mayo are a cynical outfit.

“Look, I’ve been on the end of one-point defeats when a manager and sometimes you get frustrated,” he said.

“I’ve no idea what he (McGeeney) is talking about. You saw that game out there. You tell me what you thought from a cynical point of view or who was doing what.

“We finished with all our players. We just try to build a game as hard and as fair as we can so commentary on a game when you lose is kind of tough.”

It was their first championship victory over the Tribesmen since 2015 and their first time to dump their neighbours of out the championship in 20 years.

After three wins on the bounce in the backdoor, next weekend’s clash will be Mayo’s fourth game in as many weeks but it’s a prospect Horan is looking forward to.

Kevin McLaughlin with John Daly and Sean Kelly Kevin McLoughlin is tackled by John Daly and Sean Kelly. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

“Our aim was to win the game and get into the Super 8s. We’re really happy with the start and the energy we showed throughout the whole game, from some of our newest guys and some of our experienced guys.

“I thought overall the work-rate and effort was very good so delighted with that aspect of it and obviously happy to be heading down to Kerry next weekend.

“Looking forward to it. We’ve had a few clashes with Kerry already this year and we’re looking forward to going down there, we genuinely are. Games are coming hot and heavy and the game-to-training ratio is the way you want it.”

Mayo led by Galway eight points after 10 minutes, 27 minutes and 46 minutes, yet only wound up prevailing by three in the end. Their failure to put the game to bed didn’t concern Horan, who was pleased with the performance of his veterans.

“We only won by three, so I’m more than happy with that,” he quipped tongue-in-cheek.

“The goal from the free was crazy so that would make it six points. I don’t think there’s any story in that. As I said, I’m delighted with a lot of stuff.

“We had a lot of goal chances and two of our goal chances I was sure they were frees at a minimum. We went down, got surrounded and the ball went down so it gave Galway a bit of momentum when we had scores on and if we took those scores it would have been different. They’re the things we’re learning from.

“James (Carr), his second goal was unbelievable. He’s a very exciting player who has a bit of everything and when we get him fully fit he’ll be a serious option.

“Delighted for him to get more game-time, but I’m nearly more happy for some of the senior lads in our full-back line – Chris Barrett, Brendan Harrison, Keith (Higgins), Colm Boyle in particular showed immense leadership today. Overall we’re very happy with how it went.”

On the injury front, Horan hailed Lee Keegan’s “powers of recovery” and was optimistic that Diarmuid O’Connor and Matthew Ruane could play some part in the Super 8s.

Keegan limped off with a serious looking ankle injury during the first-half of their win over Armagh last weekend, but surprisingly appeared off the bench after 63 minutes against Galway.

O’Connor underwent surgery recently on a fractured wrist, while Ruane suffered a broken collarbone and Horan refused to rule out a return for both players.

“(Keegan) got a bad injury you all saw last week with his ankle, but he has amazing powers of recovery, he really has, whatever physiology he has.

“You saw him on the field there today, he was running well and we’re delighted with that because obviously we thought it was a much longer-term injury. He’s up and running.

“Certainly Diarmuid will be (back during the Super 8s), and Mattie will be very close.”

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