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Maughan: 'Realistically can Mayo win an All-Ireland in 2019? I don’t think so'

John Maughan believes new Mayo manager James Horan will look to build for the future.

Image: James Crombie/INPHO

JAMES HORAN’S SECOND spell in charge of Mayo will begin with trials held for over 100 players as he assesses his options ahead of 2019.

Interestingly, Horan stated that the senior players are expected to take part at the October Bank Holiday Weekend trials. The four-year term he was given suggests he’ll have one eye on building for the future, but are they still capable of winning the All-Ireland in 2019?

John Maughan says they’ll certainly contend for Sam, but fears the ageing squad have already seen their best days.

“Is there another tune in Mayo? There are many out there who might think they’ve missed the boat, missed their chance. A couple of big name players, Tom Parsons will be lucky if he makes it back, albeit I read that he hopes to get some minutes of championship come the summer.

“Big question mark there,” Maughan continued. “Seamus O’Shea, you begin to wonder has he much more left in the legs. Keith Higgins, Ger Cafferkey at full-back. It’s a bit of transitional phase. Andy Moran, I watched him playing club.

“Even though he’s played quite good football in the championship, another eight months down the road, will he have the legs to go out and 60 minutes? I doubt it very much. He might think different because he has been amazing the last couple of years.

“Realistically, can they win an All-Ireland in 2019? I don’t think so. But they’ll be there or thereabouts. The break will have done them horrid good. If we get some of those, the likes of Keith Higgins, reinvigorated again then who knows.

“I watched Diarmuid O’Connor last Saturday, he was awesome playing midfield for his club. He will probably slot in to a midfield role.

James Horan Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“It’s amazing what can happen in a few months, a couple of good league games. I’ve watched a lot of club football in Mayo this year, there are a couple of young fellas out there who would warrant consideration. I don’t think it would take a whole lot to get them up to inter-county standard. So I wouldn’t rule them out competing.

“Mayo have been remarkable the last number of years in the way they keep bouncing back. Maybe this break will do them the power of good.”

Maughan is well-placed to comment on Horan’s return, given the new Offaly boss had two spells in charge of Mayo in the past. He believes the former Westport is the right man for the job.

“He knows Mayo football. He’s involved in it with Westport this past year. He’s never really been removed from it. Obviously has an appetite for it. has the respect of a lot of senior players who would know him.

“Your backroom team is now critical to it – Mayo have lost Donie Buckley who has gone in with Kerry after six years. I don’t know much about Tony McEntee who was with Stephen Rochford.

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“Your backroom team are critical now to how you operate as well. The other guys spend a lot of time coaching on the field, obviously operating to instructions from your manager.

“His backroom team is critical to how he does. There is nothing James needs to know about the game. He knows a lot. Hasn’t been out of it long.”

Eoin O'Donoghue celebrates a second half point Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Maughan believes Horan has plenty of young talent that are ready to make the step up from club football.

“I assume it’s him that looked for the four-year tenure. He probably recognises that it will take a while during this transitional phase to get some of the younger players into it. That said, you never know what can happen in sport.

“Mayo have proved us wrong through the back door. Two years ago they should have been dead and buried by Derry down in Castlebar – came out of that one. Very poor against Clare. Cork should have beaten them as well.

“You might see another bounce in them next year but it will be extremely difficult. Dublin seem to have stolen a march on everybody, have a lot of good talent coming through from underage level.

“Kerry are another team. New management. Might take a year to get them mobilised but you would think they are a team who should be able to compete at the top level. Challenge the Dubs. Mayo would be in that group of three or four.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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