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Tuesday 6 December 2016

'I always think Mayo can win Sam every year', reveals James Horan

James Horan
James Horan

LAST time Galway played Mayo in Salthill in 2013, the preamble was doused with a presumption that, despite their contrasting standings football's invisible but accepted rankings, geographical proximity or historical antipathy would bridge the gap.

Mayo then went and made a laugh of that particular theory with a 4-16 to 0-11 chastising of their hosts.

"I'd say it'll play more as a factor for Galway to be honest," says James Horan now, then Mayo's manager and buzzing a short cut through each of the four Connacht Championships of his reign.

"I'd say Galway would be, like, that day we won very strong, we won big on the scoreline and we on big physically and we won it every single way, on their own home patch.

"There'll be a lot of the same players who played that day playing on (Sunday).

unblemished

"So I'd say they'd be keen to sort that out. It should be a motivational factor for Galway."

Horan eloped with an unblemished record in Connacht but two All-Ireland final defeats and no Sam Maguire.

As such, he tried every route towards that goal and reckons his former charges will go as direct as possible, given the choice.

"I think you're going to see Mayo coming out of the blocks fairly quick this year," he says.

"They'd be very keen to get a good performance down. After the end of the league where, with the last couple of games to go, they were in top position and looking to get to the semi-finals and they had a couple of indifferent performances then.

"So I think you'll see Mayo coming out at Pearse Stadium in Galway very, very strong."

And perhaps a tad more restrictive.

Dublin's destruction of Mayo in Castlebar during this year's League pre-empted a notable change in their configuration for the rest of it.

Once bitten and all that.

"They've definitely tried out a few things," Horan notes.

"In a couple of games they had sweepers and men back, Diarmuid O'Connor at wing-forward was playing in the backs for a while as well. I suppose you've always got to tweak things but if you tweak something then something else comes out.

balance

"You know, one of the things Mayo were very strong at was I suppose their support running and that sort of stuff.

"It's going to be a balancing act if they go more defensive, that they don't cut off more of their scoring options as well. It's trying to get that balance right that is going to be interesting."

Optimistic, despite the advancing years of some key members of the team?

"I always think that Mayo can win it every year.

"This is one thing that I think is changing though," Horan adds, "with S (strength) and C (conditioning) and with the science I suppose in football, I think some players' careers will be extended.

"Because training will be modified and their game-time and everything will be modified to maximise them for when you need them.

"There's definitely a few players on each panel where that sort of regime is in place," Horan concludes.

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