He hasn’t had much to say in public since the immediate aftermath of last September’s All-Ireland final but this morning James Horan has made up for lost time. In an interview with the Irish Examiner’s Terry Reilly (here), James takes a strong – and fully deserved – cut at RTÉ and the antics they got up to ahead of the All-Ireland final before going on to concentrate on the challenges facing his team in the year ahead.
In finally breaking his silence on this issue, James goes about it the right way. He doesn’t (like a previous Mayo manager I could name) put on the poor mouth about it but instead simply calls the so-called national broadcaster out for their “unwarranted and incorrect” coverage of us – which, of course, stretches right back to the league final last year – and states that as time passes “we’re changing minds and changing attitudes”.
He also has plenty of interesting things to say about the All-Ireland itself, in particular those pivotal opening moments. Quite correctly, he rubbishes the over-simplistic conclusion that we got our match-ups wrong at the start and points instead to errors that occurred in the lead-up to those key scores for Donegal, such Karl Lacey’s ability to swam thirty yards downfield without encountering any challenges and those early balls we pumped inside that came straight back out again.
What’s really positive about the interview is how James speaks about the experience of being in an All-Ireland and how it’ll stand to the players, whom he says “just can’t wait to get back on the field again”. He also reveals that the panel is being strengthened – “we’ve already some strong additions to the group and we’re not finished yet” – and, perhaps slightly tongue-in-cheek, he reckons that the squad have some way to go to reach their potential when he says “we did okay in 2012, but compared to what this team is capable of, we didn’t perform to 60% of our true potential”. That’s one for the Celtic-bound Messiah to suck on.
All in all, I think this is exactly the kind of talk we want to be hearing from our man right now. We all know – and he knows better than any of us – that we should have won last September but no amount of moaning now about what we left behind then is going to turn us into the All-Ireland champions of 2012. The only thing that counts now is how we do in 2013 and it’s great to see James so focused on the challenges that lie ahead.
There is, I know, a longer interview with James in this week’s Western People which I guess will be hitting the shelves later on and which I suppose will cover much of this same ground in more detail. I’m away again at the minute but I’ll try to pick up a copy later in the week to see if there are any further nuggets in that one.