It has to be Horan

Photo: Balls.ie

The process leading to the appointment of the next manager of the Mayo senior football team is now underway. Both James Horan – who previously held the post with great distinction between 2010 and 2014 – and Mike Solan, the current U20 manager who also led the county to U21 All-Ireland success in 2016, have been nominated for the position. Inside the next few weeks one of them will be confirmed in the role.

While the exact process for selecting the new manager isn’t entirely clear it’s likely to involve both men sitting down with some kind of selection panel, where their plans, including their proposed backroom teams will be discussed. Once a preferred candidate is identified, either by the selection group or following a recommendation to the County Board Executive, that name will then need to be ratified by the full County Board.

As is clear from the poll that’s still running here on the site, James Horan is the popular choice among supporters. While the numbers in the poll don’t provide definitive proof about whom supporters want to get the job, over 2,000 votes have now been cast and James enjoys 75% support. I think it’s reasonably fair to claim this as statistically significant.

James Horan would be my own clear choice as well. To my mind, the decision that needs to be made isn’t even a close one. By any measure James is by far the more credible candidate.

This is not in any sense a criticism of Mike Solan, who has already started to build an impressive managerial CV. Like many others, I believe he has the potential to be an excellent manager of the senior team in the future. We’ve never done any kind of succession planning on managers within Mayo GAA but it’s never too late to start. A good start would be to plan for Mike’s succession to the top job a bit down the line. But not now.

Those who would sniff at James Horan’s achievements in the job first time round – He took off Alan Freeman! He left Caff on Donaghy! He never won us the All-Ireland! – need to try harder when recalling vignettes about that particular tenure. Because, lest it be forgotten, it was under James Horan that we became a real force in the game and, unlike we’d done previously when we’d made it to finals, in the Horan era we remained in the leading bunch of competitors every year, pushing ever harder for glory.

On the field he built us into an uncompromising, hard-working and utterly determined team. Off the field James injected an unprecedented degree of professionalism and attention to detail into the Mayo set-up.

Consistently competitive was his mantra and in that he delivered year after year. Four Connacht titles on the spin, last four in the championship every year and twice in the final, with victories over the reigning All-Ireland champions three years running. He didn’t, it’s true, get us over the line any year but he delivered results against the top teams in the championship with a regularity we could previously only have dreamt about.

After so many years of underachievement, James Horan got the county’s team and its growing support base marching to a new beat, aiming for ever higher performance. He demanded it of his players and he wasn’t slow to demand it of supporters too, famously chiding us for being too bloody quiet when the fat was in the fire in the 2013 final.

As an avowed Horanista, a small part of me died that heartbreaking night in Limerick when, as we made our weary way homewards, the news broke that James’ tenure as manager was over. It felt in every sense then like he was leaving before the job had been completed.

But times move on. And after the convulsions of the Pat and Noel era, Stephen Rochford steered the team even closer to the Promised Land. Stephen is now, sadly, out of the picture and so the opportunity has opened up once again for James to pitch for the position he held before.

James will know exactly what the job entails and how he’d want to approach it second time around. That much is clear from what he’s said publicly about the challenge, one that you sense he’s already relishing.

He’ll know too that it won’t be a case of simply taking up where he left off four years ago. Time has moved on and, for a number of the warriors who featured so strongly in his previous tenure, it’s on the cusp of running out.

Whoever gets the gig will need to get started on the rebuilding process in 2019. This is not going to be an easy task but one that could, for sure, be safely entrusted with James Horan to oversee. While, of course, all the time sticking to his core philosophy of remaining consistently competitive.

Shortly before the County Board made the rather ballsy decision to appoint a wet-behind-the-ears James Horan to the manager’s job in late September 2010, I wrote the following here on the blog:

If the selection panel is prepared to put petty politics and all the rest to one side on this one crucial decision that could determine so profoundly the direction the county team goes in over the next few years, then there is only way this appointment process can go.  It’s a big call for them to make but, if they stand back and take their decision in a dispassionate manner, it should also be an easy one.

The right decision – when it really was a big call to make – was taken to appoint James Horan then. It’s not even a big call this time around. Taking everything into consideration, there’s only one plausible and logical conclusion that can be reached. Which is that, once again, James Horan is the right man for the job.

134 thoughts on “It has to be Horan

  1. What a brilliant post worded perfectly! Part of us did die that evening ! Hearts were broken all over again when we heard that news ! I really feel it would give all supporters a much well needed lift if James was to be appointed especially after the past few weeks such doom & gloom around nothing against Mike Solan but I really feel it’s time for James to finish what he started #JamesHoranback

  2. Perfectly put. I’m a massive admirer of Solan and what he has achieved, and I have no doubt that he will continue to achieve highly, hopefully as a future Mayo manager but there is only one right outcome here and now is not his time.

    Horan’s enthusiasm in that interview took me by surprise and there can’t be a single person in the county who didn’t hear it and get a thrill of excitement about what might lie ahead. There is of course a tendency towards rose tinted glasses and he didn’t get everything right, but who has? He developed us more than anyone else every did, and if the county board decides not to appoint him, they had better have one hell of an explanation ready.

    #HasToBeHoran

  3. To many it’s a no brainer..Hope selection panel feel the same way..Great article W J..Sums up how alot of posters feel.

  4. There is two routes the CB can take on this appointment and not wishing to sound dramatic, but if they take the wrong one it could have a hugely negative impact on the counties future.
    1. Appoint James Horan. Make Michael Solan a selector and in 3 years time make him the next manager. That’s 5/6 years of continuity at the head of the senior team. I think if you gave that option to any county or club they’d take both your hands off.
    2. Appoint Michael Solan. Horan walks away forever from football in the county. A raft of senior players will resign making Solans job even harder. He struggles to find his feet and gets thrown on the scrap heap like so many previous mas in the county. We’ve then lost two hugely talented coaches.
    If the county board appoint Michael Solan then people will see it for what it is, a pure hatchet job on James Horan.

  5. Well said Wj. He has to be the man to lead us. Well respected by players and supporters alike, and as a current club manager in the county, will have first hand knowledge of potential county players that can be drafted in. According to his recent interview, he has been inundated with offers to be part of his back room team. So theres no doubt he could build an impressive team to assist him. Really hope the county board see sense on this one. Any personal grudges have to be put aside for the betterment of Mayo football.

  6. Well said WJ.

    Horan made mistakes first time around, some of them galling, and you would hope that he has learned from them. But in the bigger scheme of things, he did nothing less than put a steel spine into Mayo football, especially when it came to Croke Park. Mayo play there now as if it’s their home ground. That’s down to James Horan.

    I’m on record here as saying that I think the dream of Sam is gone for the current team. But one of the best things about Horan’s first tenure was his bullish optimism. The man’s belief in his county is infectious. If he gets the job, he may not have the weaponry to win Sam, but he will at least get Mayo to the Super 8s again. And after that, let the chips fall where they may.

    Give Horan the job.

  7. Any kiltimagh lads do well against louisburgh?didn’t get a chance too see the game but I can seriously see kilti being an up and coming club if they get past the burden of intermediate does anyone think they can go all the way ?eoghan Lavin and Sean Walsh are serious talents and theres a young Conor mallee lad coming up
    We have too invest in too clubs like this a lot more they’re beating senior teams for fun..Anyone have any opinions on what I just said??

  8. One thing about Horan, he turned around a team that got knocked out of the Championship by Longford, to a team that was regularly knocking out the holders of the Championship title.
    I was in Croke Park, alongside both of the Cork supporters in attendance that day to watch that team lay down it’s marker. Indeed our own numbers of support seems to have swollen considerably since that day too, so he’s improved the interest in the county team hugely.
    Horan did blood a good number of what now would be considered first choice starters – Cillian, Lee, Jason Doc, Diarmuid to name a few. No doubt he can do similar with the current young bloods too.
    Here’s hoping.

  9. Like in our own work and college lives we all get a bit smarter and wiser with age…the same can apply to management. Has to be Horan.

    PS – JP McManus for president!

  10. I hope it is Horan, sincerely do. No disregard to Solan but he’s not ready. The job is to big right now for him.

    I wish the CB make the correct call. They have a rocky history…..

    All in again.

  11. Well said Willie Joe,I feel that the older players will respond better to James Horan and I think most of the panel have at least another season or two

  12. Hoping for Horan, but not feeling optimistic. Don’t trust the county board at all on this one. This is a sensitive time for Mayo football and we need to be careful. We need someone to steady the ship after the recent drama, and Horan has that steady hand. I feel if the county board lead with their personal grudges and get it wrong, the damage will be long term.

  13. No question on this Blog as to who’s the preferred choice…. But I to disagree with Liam here, If Mike Solan is indeed appointed, Why would James Horan walk away from football, is he not the current manager of Westport?… Or indeed how anyone can know If a raft of senior Player’s will retire or otherwise?. Seriously I don’t know who it will be at the end of this… Ordinarily speaking, the appointment of Mike Solan should not lead to any controversy,…Why in a County like Mayo where All Ireland titles are a rare as Corncrakes in Corafin would the appointment of a manager with already All Ireland success (U21 2016) and came very very close with our U20’S this year (A team, the general public had no expectations of this year, given the hammerings dished out to our recent Minor teams) be controversial?… Well while I am in the minority here having a slight preference for Mike Solan, I can hazard a guess as to why many may see this appointment as controversial.., I don’t think that the Mayo public are filled with confidence when it comes to how our County Board managed the process of finding a manager in recent times, I remember Liam McHale on national radio telling something about a phantom interview with the County Board a few years ago….The way the County Board went about doing it’s business, and righty or wrongly there was and possibly still is a perception, in Mayo and further afield that the Mayo County Board is a bit of a closed shop , and not the most transparently? fair …. I wonder was this a consideration for potential outside Manager’s for the Mayo Job, It is noticable by the absence of Candidates from outside Mayo…The Mayo Job,is not without it’s challenges but it is also possibly the best Job for an ambitious Manager in Ireland as well… So the lack of competition for the Mayo Job from outside James or Mike is definitely a disappoinment to me…. I’m 100% sure none of us can see into the future and all would like to see whoever gets the job being very successful, neither Man comes with a gaurentee of success,. … But the public perception that the selection process is above board would be welcome for all concerned!

  14. Described exactly our sentiments WJ.
    After that evening in Limerick and James retiring it felt like the end of the world for us.
    Now perchance to dream again.

  15. Great piece Willie Joe.
    I truly believe that if the Mayo county board are in any way serious regarding fund raising, then they need to be firmly on board with James Horan at this time.
    Solan may have his chance at some point.
    Right now Mayo need an experienced hand with a strong personality to continue the progression.

  16. I believe he would walk away from county football Leantimes and would you blame if he did. The county owes the last 7 years of success to him, he built this team, he set the standards, he had to fight the county board for every penny to achieve those standards. Remember it’s only 8 years ago that the Waterford airport saga was deemed good enough for the team heading to London. After the way they treated Stephen Rochford the county board should be holding high masses to thank god for James Horan returning never mind thinking of ways to not give him the job.

  17. sorry but what top manager would let a big man win clean ball on the edge of your square. 3 times he let that happen unless i’m mistaken against Donegal and twice against Kerry in 14. Not to mention Bernard Brogan roasting us a number of times and no sweeper being put on him.

    if Solan put a good team around him i would go with him

  18. Given Solans tactics on Hyland in the U20 final this year, I wouldn’t expect a different approach Centerfield.

  19. Brilliant post Willie Joe.

    To expand on your point of rebuilding, as it stands, this is a challenging team to manage, even for someone like say Jack O’Connor or Jim McGuinness – not really ever serious candidates I know. The risk of losing that dressing room is huge, because of the experience and determination of the core bunch. Horan really is the only one who can do it, and who can kick ass when it’s needed.

    I don’t actually go all the way on the rebuilding argument. I really thought (Horan’s) Westport young guns would blaze a trail this year, but when you see Conor O’Shea as the stand out player, this tells you something: even the fringe county players are going to be hard to dislodge. Horan has the nous to gradually change the team – as Rochy has done too, despite all the criticism.

    I’m slightly alarmed at the leisurely pace at which the County Board is operating. This is the Board that was hassling Rochy to name his team, nearly a month ago.

    There is a real sense of urgency now. Why can’t it be done this week? I’m sure both candidates are available 24/7 to tell the blazers how good they are. Bring it on!

  20. We have to find at least 5 New players for next year regardless of who is in charge. Gaelic football at the top level is a young man’s game ( there is only one exception to this in the country Andy Moran). If any of Caff, Barrett, Boyler, SOS, Parsons and Andy are starting our big games next Summer – we will have no chance of competing with the top teams. The best we can hope from these players is a 20-25 min appearance (which in itself will be vital).

  21. Super piece and a great line from DavyJ about Horan putting a “steel spine” back into Mayo football. His enthusiasm for the position, previous experience and knowledge of the county club scene mark him out as the strongest candidate. Let’s get it sorted and swagger into 2019 with new optimism

  22. U nailed it again Wille Joe, and expresed the views of the majority of fans, looking forward to the headline that says It Is Horan.

  23. To Say Conor O’Shea was the standout player of the Breaffy Westport game Isn’t correct, Colm Moran,Fionn Mcdonagh and Matty Ruane were alot more impressive from general play

  24. Agree 100%, Willie Joe. You put the argument perfectly. But I wish I had confidence in the Executive to make the right decision for the right reasons. I think that what I understand to be the Chairman’s expressed opinion that it’s time to let some of the older players go will be a deciding factor. I think that if anybody is to go there are a few younger players on the panel who for whatever reason have got very little game time who might go first. Certainly not the likes of Keith, Andy or Colm. Even if they were not starting games next year they have a vital role to play as match deciding subs. There is no point in replacing them with untried newbies.

  25. It sounds like it’s going to be solan though and given the mistakes made by Horan first time around I can’t blame them.

  26. For anyone to say it’s a no brainer is an insult to Solan and indeed to a Horan himself. The “no brainer” in 2011 was Tommy Lyons with Horan an appointment from left field.
    The last thing this county needs is more tension between its next manager and it’s board and I fear the appointment of Horan will see that inevitably occur over the next few years. He’s the safe choice for sure but as 2011 showed us that’s not always the best course to take.

  27. Hugely disrespectful to Solan to be tryin to get #HastobeHoran tending.
    Let the process and their interviews take place and let the best management team come through to take this county forward.

  28. Lot of people, myself included hoping Solan goes in as a selector. Surely that would have to be a decision James Horan made.. and not the county board? Am i correct in thinking that?? If Solan is in for the top job, which obviously he is, then would he be satisfied with the crumbs of the top table as a selector? If the county board try to force him onto Horan.. then surely horan would walk. Unfortunately i think it is wishful thinking that we get the two on board… but miracles happen i suppose.

  29. Well said WJ, It has to be Horan, but its not going to be im afraid. The County board are going to use this chance to humiliate him, mark my words. this is a disaster for Mike Solan, a young man and a gent, but is about to be thrown under the bus by the County board. Mike needs a few more years experience before he walks into a Senior dressing room. How can they realistically respect him deep down?. The board will give him a fraction of the budget enjoyed by Horan and Rochford, they’ll force him to introduce too many young players who will not be ready. The job will be Solans, I’ll support him and the team, but we are heading back to the dark days imo. Lots of top players will walk away I feel, and then Mike will be fucked out next june or july when we dont make the super 8’s. As that man from that funny video in the bookies says…”the politics of Mayo football makes me sick to my teeth”.

  30. I read a piece on the RTE website where Horan believes that both he and the Mayo CB are older and wiser 4 years on, he’s hugely excited about the talent coming through and that he wouldn’t rule out working with Mike Solan (but that he couldn’t possibly comment at this stage of the process!). I felt he was really pitching for the job and I’m already very enthused by what he’s saying. My only fear is that because he was so loyal to the lads that threw Holmes/Connelly overboard he may not get be favoured by the decision makers on the CB. Solan is a good young coach with a great record at underage level and it would be easy for the CB to dismiss Horan as yesterday’s man. What put me off Solan was the naming of Enda McGinley in his backroom team – do we really need a Tyrone influence to our style of play? We saw what Paddy Tally did for Galway and id sooner watch cows eating grass than watch them the way the played this year!

  31. To win the AI or even come close we need as many of the older guys in the panel as possible. As for whoever there wrote off Barrett, he was late back from injury this year, any year he was lucky with injury he was superb. We had ready made replacement EOD and admittedly didn’t use him enough. After dodgy start v Comer Barrett did better than probably any other marker Galway met. Likewise Seamie missed out a lot of early season as did Harry and Donie. Boyler struggled with the heat but I wouldn’t be writing him off either. Maintaining Higgins hunger so that he doesn’t go hurling might be a challenge but I think that’s down to lads like him wanting to be fresh like Aido and the basketball the previous year after late endings to the seasons and AI disappointment.

  32. As somebody has pointed out already,very uplifting article in the examiner regarding James Horans thoughts on the future of Mayo football,and reading between the lines, he looks like a man that’s mad keen to give it another go,and introduce new players,he believes are out there, well that’s my take on it anyway, sorry cant provide the link Maybe Willie Joe will oblige.thanks,

  33. When we’ve a lad with the name Rayo Silke on here looking for someone other than Horan then we know who Galway don’t want.

  34. Horan already has already spoken to the county board, this is the same guy who was lukewarm to the job a few weeks back. No way he’d allow his name to go forward if he thought he could be screwed over. He’ll be manager , it’s a done deal.

  35. Although, from the outset I have felt Horan was the best candidate, based on experience and proven ability, I feel supporters should now sit back and let to CB lead the way in the appointment. It’s also the least Mike Solan – a very honourable man, deserves.

  36. Turmip head..The no brainer comment that has irked you was mine and Im still sticking to it..And I’ll tell you why..In my mind this has been an annus horribilis both on and off the pitch for Mayo football..The man required to manage the team for the next number of years will have massive expectations and will have to have a thick enough skin to deal with the job of Mayo boss..Horan’s previous experience at Senior level has to be taken in account..He has valuable experience and can hit the ground running..If any other county in Ireland had these 2 men in front of them who do you think they would pick??They wouldnt have to think twice.And for the record that is not disrespecting Solan but experience MUST count..

  37. I agree Regina if you were really hair splitting people could argue that the result of the Poll was disrespecting Solan which of course is nonsense. Sport is about opinions and it seems most on here want Horan. Nobody has actually said a bad word about Solan except that he lacks experience at senior level and that his time will come.

  38. Re 2011 Regina, if James Horan and tommy Lyons were put in front of any county in ireland who do you think they would have picked then??

    To make a reasonable judgement on the next manager, I’d like to know both of their respective management teams. Is a Barry Solan the s&c coach going to be aligned to his brother?
    The trainer on both tickets is going to be a huge decision. Donal Buckley played a huge part the last few years and there was a lot of reliance on him. The next trainer will be key.
    Very hard to call the next manager without having the details of their background team to hand.

  39. @Liamintgerunsince51M…Enda McGinley is a former ,three time’s All Ireland Senior winning player, twice All Ireland U21 winner a mere once All Ireland Minor winner…. Apart from coming from the same County as Paddy Tally what else has he in common with the guy?….Enda is qualified Physiotherapist, which you would imagine could possibly be very useful If indeed Mike Solan was to be the successful applicant…

  40. Liamontherunsince51M, couldn’t agree more with everything in your post. Also Shuffly Deck – spot on re writing off the “older” guys. Rayosilke, put the fishing rod away. Limerick is what cost us in 2014, not Horan’s mistakes.

    Horan was very explicit in his interview about wanting to bring through younger guys and you can only imagine that was in response to Mike Connelly’s out-of-line comments about same while Stephen Rochford was still our manager. Solan will obviously have a perceived advantage on this front, rightly or wrongly.

    I cannot see Solan going in as a selector if he is not picked for the job; anyway surely both candidates will have to present a backroom team in advance?

    I do have to say though that I can’t see Solan allowing the county board to walk all over him regarding budgets etc. I would imagine that he too is a man who knows his own mind and is not afraid to stand up for himself. There seems to be a perception out there there that he would some kind of “yes man” and I don’t buy that. I would have very few reservations about him if he was a little older and had senior management experience but that is one hell of a step up and a very tough dressing room on your first outing and I feel it’s too much of a risk to take at such a crucial juncture.

    It has to be Horan, it IS a no-brainer, and that is in no way disrespectful; I don’t think anyone here has shown Solan any disrespect; quite the opposite in fact – he is almost unanimously highly regarded and is being widely mooted as an ideal successor to Horan.

  41. Apologies Wille Joe, u have.Spot on Regina.Experince, player respect, and consistently competitive mantra, along with instilling a certain self belief and steeliness in the team, that they are capable of beating anyone,and have on his watch,and I have no doubt will again given time,an no-brainer indeed.

  42. Your finest piece of writing Willie Joe! Sums up what I feel and others on here do too. What a dreadful night Limerick was..and then J. Horan to resign too. No one is saying anything negative re Solan – just at this juncture it has t be James.

  43. Regarding Solan, there has been no expense spared with him teams in recent years so would suggest that he can get what he wants from the county board.
    McGinley would be an interesting addition, a strong backroom team will make a big difference to any bid, having said that, a lack of senior management experience is a significant disadvantage.
    Either way, I will support the team next year irrespective of the management team, and will be renewing my season tickets when they are up for renewal.

  44. #hastobehoran That was one of your finest pieces WJ. I remember driving through Gort and getting the news from a delighted Galway supporter that night in 2014, I was close to tears. I believe and trust the Executive to make the right decision in spite of the Nay Sayers.

  45. WJ, you’ve captured my and the overwhelming majority of Mayo GAA supporters sentiments perfectly. Time now for the CBE to listen to their people. Like I said in a previous post, and with utmost respect to Michael Solan but this is a very easy decision to make.

  46. The problem is that many of this Mayo team have been through a hell of a lot! They are hugely experienced and in all likelihood are very opinionated as a result. That is understandable. There may also be very difficult selection decisions to be made in 2019. It would take someone of extraordinary ability to win over the dressing room and pull this off in their first attempt at intercounty management. That is why I would go with James Horan. I would like to see Mike Solan continue with u20 with very close cooperation with James Horan and Barry Solan to continue as S&C trainer. Mike then to take over the reins in a couple of years when Horan moves on.

  47. Leantimes the land is littered with multiple All-Ireland winners but it doesn’t necessarily make them great coaches or selectors as we’ve seen. All I’m saying is that he comes from the Mickey Harte footballing school of thinking (as did Paddy Tally). He may well be the missing link that might bring us to the promised land but I’m sceptical. As for the physiotherapist thing – there’s plenty of excellent ones in Mayo without wasting money on mileage expenses bringing a lad from north of the border.

  48. @Liamontherunsince51M ,.The land in Mayo is hardly littered with multiple All Ireland winner’s, it doesn’t necessarily make them anything either.! .We were bringing a defensive coach from Armagh ,Tony McEntee (the All Ireland medal In his back pocket, did not inhibit his excellence as a Coach either) until recently and an excellent defensive coach he was too.. Even If Armagh were equally associated with blanket defense as were Tyrone.. No doubt we have Physiotherapist in Mayo, but surely it has to be? an advantage for a Coach to be one…How you can Link a multiple (six times) at various grade’s All Ireland winner, former attack minded midfielder with a blanket defense minded Paddy Tally, whom I never heard of before 2018, and only because I was listening to Joe Brolly ,is beyond me?… The last time (prior to the excellent Tony McEntee) that Mayo went North of the Border for football expertise was Moran and Morrison and I taught they acquitted themselves very well… Can anyone remember, what happened to them, and Why?…

  49. Sorry if I touched a nerve Leantimes just giving my opinion. Maybe you are right. Maybe McGinley is the next Donie Buckley and Cian O’Neill rolled into one!

  50. I was open minded, but not anymore after reading Billy Sheehan with Michael Solan. His behavior in Limerick in 2016 was way over the top and all reports from Cork and Laois that I have heard would not be favorable

  51. What coaching/management experience does Enda McGinley have? Having three All-Irelands is obviously a plus but it is no guarantee of anything. Jack O’Shea had seven and look how that turned out in Mayo.
    Billy Sheehan’s inclusion would not fill me with confidence either from all I’ve heard.
    I think it is absurd to compare James Horan in 2018 with Tommy Lyons in 2010. Horan’s achievements far outweigh Lyons’s. It would, for me, be the equivalent of the board looking for John Evans now if you’re looking for a comparison with Tommy Lyons in 2010.
    I’m curious to hear who Horan has on his ticket but Solan was only a rival to him if he pulled together a top class backroom team around him. I’m not seeing any evidence of that. This should be a simple decision. Horan has experience, familiarity with the current group and it’s wrong to suggest, as many have, that he would not be ruthless where needed. Remember in 2011 he dropped Tom Parsons, Aidan Kilcoyne, Barry Moran and more before championship. Agree or not with those decisions, they were certainly decisive ones.

  52. Most people remember the heartache of limerick. I remember it too. A tough tough weekend that was.
    I get flashbacks too though of b brogan palming the ball to the Mayo net on more than one occasion like you’d see in a make up game on a beach.
    Nobody can take away what James Horan would bring to the dressing room but my question is. Can the strategy that was missing at times during his previous reign be learned. If it can then that would round him out as a standout manager.
    He did a very good job his last run and there was room there for improvement as well.

    Poor Solan, well nobody knows how he would do ?. He could be a great manager himself and I hope he is someday but the weight of the people want James Horan.

  53. Mike Solan is a great young manager and will get his chance one day, but ts a no-brainer for me.

    We’re in a tricky situation in Mayo, if we don’t manage the next few years well, we could fall off the cliff. It has a 2010 feel to it. Horan steadied the ship then and he can do it now.

    There are a lot of similarities with 2010, we had a large quantity of u21 winners (2006) who were yet to kick on. James Horan brought all of those lads to the next level and I think he can do it again with the 2016 lads, and to a lesser extent the 2018 lads. The amount of players he brought through and improved in his time was simply incredible.

    People say that Mayo aren’t able to get a good run in the league and we can only peak for August/September. Well that wasn’t the case with James Horan, we made the league semi final or better in 3 of his 4 years and never lost in Connacht.

    He’s a special manager and right now, we need him.

  54. They say good journalism is dying but the Mayo News this week proves there’s life in the old dog yet! Both candidates for the manager’s job are interviewed, all the weekend’s SFC and IFC action is covered and there’s an eight-page supplement on this weekend’s Junior final. A new episode of the podcast will be out this morning too, featuring both the managerial appointment and all the club action.

  55. Going by Horans interview, it seems he was inundated with offers to be part of his ticket…some very high profile people from around the country. Maybe Canavan wants to go in as a selector/forwards coach? I think that would be an unreal scenario, after all, Canavans wife is from Mayo…….

  56. The reason so many excellent coaches come from North of the border is that there is a culture of educated, progressive thinking coaches from the North. Go right back to Joe Lennons time with Down in the 1960’s and you see the early signs of an educated, structured and thought-through process of coaching. The very first qualified, physical coaching courses were all based in the North and Lennon himself, an All Ireland winner as a corner back but then switched to one of the best midfielders of his era (in one of the greatest, most innovative teams of the modern game), wrote extensively and lectured on the physical and tactical requirements of the modern game. Most of the great county managers of the 70’s and 80’s studied his writings, e.g.
    It is also incorrect to assume that just because a coach comes from the North that they are defensively minded. I don’t agree that McEntee was a defensive coach. I think there are 2 wrong assumptions here, 1. that he is a Nordie and therefore a defensive blanket loving coach, and 2. that he was a defender himself and so is a defensive coach. McEntee, in actual fact, was one of the most progressive attack minded coaches in the modern club game and had a huge influence in Crossmaglen becoming so dominant in Ulster club football. McEntee developed what became known as the “blanket offense” where all the forwards tackled like demons and pushed up on the opposition kick outs. This was long before it became “au fait” to do so. His idea was that a swarm of midfielders and forwards tackling the defenders to such an extent that “turnovers” – another buzz word now but not before McEntee made it so – led to scores. His view was based on the fact that you are 50% more likely to score from a turnover inside their 45 than you are building an attack from your own defense.
    Poacher is another Northern coach that gets unfair criticism for his work with Carlow. A good coach, or manager, gets the best out of the players available to him and in Carlows case they had a honest, hard working, committed bunch that carried out Turloughs plan to the letter of the word. They didn’t have 6 Goochs up front so they had to cut their cloth to their measure. Poacher did brilliantly in the circumstances and with Tulough they devised a game plan, albeit a very defensive one, that gave them the best chance of being competitive in games. It worked too.
    As for our senior manager? I don’t think that Horan is the shoo-in that many of us assume he is. Given the geniuses that we have on our county board I wouldn’t bet a penny on it. Also, who actually are the individuals that will sit on the interview/selection committee? This one has a long way to run yet.

  57. the main issue with Horan for me was defensively.across the matches we were beaten in the championship 2011-2014 we conceded 8 goals in 4 matches. Avg 2 per game.

    Prep of team and play going forward were good but concession of goals was the fatal flaw

  58. In any given selection process you are entitled to expect that the people sitting across from you are qualified in the areas they are questioning you on. To the best of my knowledge none of the 5 man selection committee has managed, played or coached Gaelic football at the highest level. They are in their positions based on a supposed knowledge of finance, PR or administration skills, none ran their election campaigns based on a deep understanding of what it takes to manage a high performance sports team. You would hope that the members of the selection committee would be man enough to put up their hands and say “I’m not qualified enough to sit across the table from someone with 25 years experience of coaching and playing at the very highest level, who is midway through a post grad in team dynamics and coaching and ask him pertinent questions about player development, tactics and progression”. The current selection process is akin to NASA asking the janitor, a lad from the marketing department, a clerk in the office and the IT guy to do the interviews for the astronauts.
    The reason a qualified group of consultants aren’t doing the interviews is because they would pick the most qualified man and that’s not the man the county board necessarily want.

  59. Every Mayo manager since 1951 has had a ‘fatal flaw’.

    The only thing that matters right now is that the better candidate of the two – Horan – gets the job.

  60. Do we really need a panel of qualified consultants to choose between Horan and Solan? How much would such a process cost? What other counties go about their selection process in such a way? Sounds like overkill to me.

    You can’t make a straight comparison between inter-county management and other professional posts. Despite the workload, responsibility and distance involved it is still an amateur position. The candidate pool is tiny. Realistically how many top-tier outside managers could we hope to attract, even with the perfect setup? How many top-tier managers even exist in this day and age?

    Within the past 8 years the county board have appointed two different managers who brought us within one point of an All-Ireland. Maybe we should wait until the decision is actually made before beating them with a stick.

  61. Who would pick the Consultant’s?. The Pope picks the Cardinal’s , the one’s who agree with him in the first place….

  62. Liam Sheedy back in Tipp…players, county board and supporters all happy. No drama. Just appointed. Obviously the best candidate. Backroom team to be announced in future. Giving up his media stuff. Sees a bright future with tipp. Surely county board can do same in our case.

  63. If the Co board approached and visited Mike Solan at home does this mean it’s a done deal so ??

  64. That’s just ridiculous ! Players & supporters deserve more respect than that ! we need the best possible manager & backroom team in place this shouldn’t be about egos or politics it’s about what’s best for Mayo Football! They made an absolute mess of the situation with Stephen now this … I give up 🙁

  65. I hope the county board at least formally interview the two candidates as at the least it would show an equal amount of respect to Horan and Solan for putting their names forward in public as the Co Board insisted on by having a nomination process.
    At best this would insure that if Solan is indeed the man they want they could see how his plan stacks up against Horan’s and be seen to being professional and transparent in selecting the manager.
    If they scurry over to Mike’s home in secrecy and hand him the job without takling to Horan or at least talking to Horan immediately after then I don’t think it should be let slide by the local media, clubs and fans!!

  66. Mabye the county board called to James Horan’s house also. Did anyone ask him or confirm with him if he was visited. I suppose when we are the laughing stock of the GAA world – the media writers can write what they want about us. These are the same media that said Jack O’ Connor was going to get the Mayo job – when he was never a realistic runner. When they keep writing so much stuff about Mayo football – eventually something someone writes is going to be right. Did the Tipp county board visit Liam Sheedy – maybe they did and no reporter bothered reporting it.

  67. @ South Mayo Exile,
    In fairness it has been widely reported nationally and locally that Co Board officials first had attempted to meet Jack O’Connor in Kerry and then did finally meet him in Breaffy House so it could hardly be called newpapers writing what they wanted about Mayo or idle specualtion?

  68. Missed that one FDB. So it’s probably true.

    Whether it’s a done deal or not is anybody’s guess. I would think not. Time will tell.

  69. Remains to be seen Ultair.
    Wouldn’t be unusual for our CB to be involved in shenanigans to get their preferred appointment.

  70. Imagine if a pair of visionary master minds even managed to call to the wrong house initially …say hypothetically the house of someone who would instantly recognise them….how that might hypothetically spread around like wildfire. Such scenarios would be unthinkable surely ?!

  71. What a mess, 5 ten year old kids, would have this wrapped up and a manager in place by now,the facts speak for themselves,proven and capable at this level, and unproven, its an no-brainer for sure,if the guys in the committee are even remotely in touch with reality,and the wishes of the of the people,there’s only one way this can go, It mus be Horan.

  72. Hypothetically speaking. What if Mike Solan walked in with a 250 player dossier from u16 to senior and his plan was to work heavily in a specific and laud out in a plan manner with the Mayo Way. He might be inexperienced, but sometimes it is the newer fresher mind that has the better plan.
    Enough about Jimmy Hyland also, if we played a sweeper and won there would be those decrying our focus on defensive football.
    I favour Horan but I’m not going to be shocked or don’t find it inconceivable that Solan can have the better plan.
    If he had had Gary Boylan, Cian Hanley, Jack Reilly , Seamus Cunniffe and a fit Matthew Ruane in 2017 I think that would have powered them possibly to an All Ireland u21 final but certainly they would have been a much stronger team.
    Pretty solid return from the players at his disposal.

  73. Hopefully, the Prodigal Son of Mayo football will return, yes the re appointment of James Horan.

    In terms of pkayers, Hanky us the real deal and let’s hope we see this come the league.

    As regards the Dublin of Mayo football, Castlebar Mitchel’s a few players there deserve a run. Most notably Neil Douglas who stole the show at the weekend against Claremorris.
    He’s an option, best suited to a two man full forward line where he would prosper.

    It would have been a viable option earlier against Galway in the championship, as opposed “hoofing” the ball in. James Durcan and Douglas are those pacy players that provide an alternative attacking option.

    If Horan was appointed, I would love to see Peter Canavan join the backroom team for obvious reasons.

    Maybe Horan and himself have developed a working relationship through Sky Sport analysis but who knows!!

  74. @Kickhams Man. Did you watch the Ballaghadereen – Garrymore match? Cian Hanley was Ballaghadereens 5th most effective player at best after Andy Moran, Darragh Kelly, Barry Regan and Ryan Lynch. Not sure he even was their 5th best.
    Seamus Cunniffe made the Mayonews team of the week at full back which was extraordinary as he had barely featured in truth.
    Neil Douglas failed to make that team, laughable when he kicked 5 points from 5 shots from play, all difficult in the first half alone.

  75. If Solan is by far and away the best candidate then brilliant appoint him but if the Co Board ask for nominees and they got two then surely you interview the two nominees and hear them out first?
    James Horan said on Sunday he hadn’t had any contact with the Co Board at all since he was nominated and if both lads are to be treated fairly then why would you head in secret to Mike Solan’s house rather than have a formal interview scheduled for both nominees?

  76. Why is it everything the CB does manages to have the stench of impropriety about it. James Horan stating in an interview that he hasn’t been contacted by anyone in the coubty board since putting his name forward while reports circulate in the press and around the county that the chairman and vice chairman called to Michael Solan’s house to see him (albeit after calling to his neighbours house first).
    Whether Michael Solan gets the job on merit or not, the fact that he got appointed because some in the CB didn’t want James Horan will forever stay with him.
    Of course the clubs could always choose not to ratify the county boards selection, that’d really throw a spanner in the works.

  77. I am afraid it slipping….as much as we want James Horan its not going to be. Chairman wants Solan and thats it. The team will break up now (sob). The effort and hard grind them players put in will all be forgotten. And the deadline of 31st Aug, financial cutbacks that Rochy was forced to listen are all forgotten. Such a mess. Its the players I feel sorry for with this uncertainty. All this time wasting is driving the fans mad.

  78. I’m not one to casually criticise county board officials or any volunteer in the GAA who give their time and energy to the cause. But I cannot believe that two of our county board actually would be so naieve as to visit one of the candidates in his home. Surely you would imagine they would have enough cop on to stick rigidly with whatever appointment process there is. I do not know the purpose of their visit but if Mike Solan gets the job then his appointment will be tainted by what will be interpreted rightly or wrongly as impropriety by the county board.
    The least I would expect from people in leadership roles in a county is fairness and a keen sense of propriety.

  79. Great to hear that the county board have decided to be professional instead of sneakily going behind people’s backs.

  80. In fairness, I heard about the Solan house visit, as well as the mistake of going to his neighbour’s house, before Horan had been nominated anyways. So hopefully not important. They may have been concerned Solan was the only nominee.

  81. Horan said he hadn’t been contacted since being nominated so do you think there’s nothing in this story MayoMark. I really fear for the future if we don’t go with Horan this time around.

  82. Aye but I’d imagine Horan has been contacted since he said that. They may have been waiting until the Westport match was done. Who knows?

    Lookit, it has to be Horan. No question about it.

  83. It’s only 3 years ago that we had the McStay fiasco with fake meetings and here we are at the same thing all over again. There was a report done, a code of conduct drawn up and a charter agreed to after that happened. What happened to it? Is it being used as a door stop somewhere along with the Strategic Review?

  84. Smacks of Fr Ted that story of County Board calling to wrong house.. The delay in announcing a manager is just allowing stories such as this to do the rounds and drive people mad…( Mad Ted Mad!!)
    It shouldn’t be the case that in 2018 we are concerned that the guidelines for such an important appointment may not be followed properly.. Yet anything is possible it seems ..even the improbable..

  85. I think everyone needs to calm down a bit and put the pitchforks away.

    The selection process is underway. Do you think for one minute that a person of James Horan’s calibre would involve himself in it if he felt it was a stitch-up? I don’t and nothing I’ve heard about the process leads me to believe it is a stitch-up.

    I’d agree that the visit to Mike Solan’s house was inadvisable but, as has been pointed out, it most likely occurred before James Horan put his name forward. We don’t know who went to visit him and how many of the deputation are also on the selection panel. We don’t know if all of them are Solan supporters come what may, we don’t know how many might have switched to Horan once he joined the fray. In short, there’s a lot we don’t know.

    Plenty of references have been made to the 2015 selection process. That, for sure, was a total disaster and was from the outset. Maybe this process will go the same way but there’s no evidence yet to say it’s heading in that direction. None of the current Officers on the County Board were in the same positions in 2015 so even lazy-minded accusations about ‘those eejits on the County Board’ don’t stack up. Mike Connelly was Vice-Chairman then so he’s the one individual who held Office in 2015 and is still on the Executive now. It’s no secret who he appears to want but it’s not a crime to have an opinion on the appointment either.

    Like the majority of you, I strongly favour James Horan for the job. But it’s not my decision to make nor is it anyone else’s unless you happen to be on the selection panel (whose job it will be to interview both men and recommend a preferred candidate), the County Board Executive (who will make a recommendation to the full County Board) or the County Board (who have to ratify the appointment). If you are on any of these bodies, then you’ll have your say at the appropriate juncture in the process.

    As one or two others have pointed out, different County Boards this decade have on two occasions appointed managers who got us to within a whisker of an All-Ireland. Appointment processes don’t always end in a shafting. Maybe, just maybe, people should let this particular process develop and see what happens rather than prejudge in advance how it’ll be conducted and what the outcome might be.

    Finally, I think it’s hugely unfair and utterly disrespectful to be making the conclusion that a Mike Solan appointment – for whatever reason this might happen – equals a stitched-up process. I wouldn’t favour such an outcome but if the selection process is one that’s fair to both candidates then the outcome needs to be respected as a fair one too.

  86. Correction, James Horan stated in that interview on Sat night after the Westport Match that he had received an email from the County Board that morning but he had not looked at it.

    Too many conspiracy theories…stick to the facts. We do not know whether or not the County Board reps have called or are planning to call to James Horans house.

    Have a look at the Tipp process which has just concluded and the Kerry one still underway and show how either are better than what our board is doing.

  87. Well said Willie Joe and Oliver K – we most be the most paranoid supporters in the country. If a rumour started that we haven’t won a senior all Ireland since 1951 because someone put a curse on us back then – some people are paranoid enough to believe it. Mayo teams that won all Ireland since 1951 Didn’t give a same about a curse or any other obstacles out in their way – they just went out and won the damn thing.

  88. It breaks my heart to say it, but its going to be Solan. Theirs a prominent senior player in that panel who is best friends with Mike…thats not a rumour its a fact. The board seem to want him more than Horan, for a variety of reasons. The money men in London and the states want Horan, (which is the best outcome for Mayo football) hopefully they’re threats to close the wallets will get James through. In no other County would you see a 4 time Connacht winner, 4 time quarter final winner, 2 time semi final winner, be overlooked for a novice at senior football in all levels. Only in Mayo!!! It would actually make you sick.

  89. With the greatest respect to Willie Joe and Olive, whose arguments are perfectly logical, paranoia is my default state.

    This County Board effectively got rid of Rochy, and they don’t like Horan. Why would we think they will do the visionary thing? The only thing that will make them sit up is the threat of loss of money, either through donors withholding, or fans putting enough pressure. I really think external pressure is the only thing that will influence them.

  90. Catcol- Well said. Pressure needs to be put on them. As you rightly said they axed Rochy, and its pretty obvious they have their “man” firmly in sight. Yet we are told to trust them to do the right thing?…I wouldn’t trust them to turn off the immersion. If solan gets the job I for one will refuse to buy any more Mayo merchandise, i’ll support the team and thats literally it.

  91. Exactly MayoDunphy….I would imagine the major sponsors toward Mayo football would be really peeved if Horan doesn’t get the gig.

    My sense of things is that the co board exec shafted Rochford, with a plain view of getting Solan in. Horan coming on board has thrown a spanner in the works from their perspective and I’m sure they are aware of the massive groundswell of support Horan has amongst the mayo support.

    It’ll be interesting to see how it pans out but facts are facts. One candidate has heaps of experience, the other is completely untested at senior level.

    I also don’t agree that bringing through a manager who oversaw several u20/21 teams is necessarily a good thing. Surely a new voice/new ideas is equally if not more i.portabt for young fellas. Whereas with the older members of the team, they love Horan. They’d run through walls for him.

    Again. This really should be a no-brainer and why it’s dragged out so long is ridiculous.

  92. God only knows what Rochie is thinking. Got the team to within a whisker, twice, of glory. Has one bad year not helped by a string of injuries and two previois energy sapping seaaons…and he gets shoved. Crazy. Only in Mayo

  93. Mayo Dunphy, I think some of your comments about Michael Solan are a disgrace.
    You make him sound like a complete no hoper, when that’s anything but the case..
    Your threat not to buy any Mayo merchandise if Solan is appointed is pathetic imo.

    Ask yourself this ?….What experience did James Horan have when he was appointed previously ?…It didn’t stop him from achieving what he did.

    If you applied the same qualifying criteria to Horan then as you are to Solan now, you obviously didn’t approve of Horan’s appointment then, I presume.

  94. Observer, Michael Solan definitely deserves respect. He is a Mayo man who has given us greqt days. My personal view is that he is not ready. I feel the u20 final showed that. I think he will continue to learn and will be Mayo manager. There is a world of difference in running a team of 20 year olds over 2 or 3 months and looking after all involved in a senior panel.

    I don’t like Mike’s backroom team. What experience has McGinley as a backroom man? What are Sheehan’s attributes most importantly. Ran from Offaly!! And part of a horrendous Cork setup. The coach is critical and we have to replace one of the best.

    Right now we do not need a gamble. A proven man to lead a transition is what is needed. Hell, the players want Horan.

    I think there should be uproar over the house visit. This was before nominations closed. They thought they had their ‘done deal’. Is it a case that Horan will be made go through with the interview for optics, and that they will be that bit cuter than asking McStay to do an interview as a favour to them? The history of Mayo County Board is that they cannot be trusted in my view and one of the selection panel is conflicted

  95. Observer2, First of all I don’t need to explain myself to you, I’ve repeatedly said Michael Solan is a Gent. I’ve also said he is the perfect man to take the reigns in 3 or 4 years time, when most of the senior players have moved on. Read back through my posts like a good lad if you want to see for yourself.

    On James Horan, he had managed Ballintubber Seniors to 1 if not 2 County titles, prior to his appointment. For me thats a seirious amount of credit in the bank when applying for manager of the Mayo Senior team. He also unearthed a skinny 19yr old named Cillian who destroyed the Rossies in the 2011 Connacht final. James also had all stars in his pocket and that imo added weight to his appointment, he knew what he was talking about, the players respected him from the off. Mayo are a top team, and deserve a man like Horan at this point in time, Mike’s time will come….probably sooner rather than later.

  96. MayoDunphy – Horan was actually appointed a few weeks before leading Ballintubber to their first senior title. So his CV didn’t contain any managerial success at senior level.

    I want Horan to get the gig but some of the comments about Mike Solan are highly disrespectful. I think Mike would do a fine job too but he’s doing great work with the U20s so I’d keep him there.

  97. It’s absolutely irrelevant what experience Horan had at the time. The here and now is this :

    We have 2 candidates. One has no experience in senior management. The other has, not only experience, but an incredibly good track record of same.

    I will be disgusted if Horan doesn’t get the job. Not because I have anything against Mike, but because Horan is clearly the best option for Mayo football at this moment in time. We risk losing one of the best coaches in the game here.

    We have to give the board the benefit of the doubt here that they will do the right thing. We can’t do anything else now anyway

  98. Cillian O’Connor was the stand out minor for Mayo in 2009 and 2010 not really unearthed from nowhere and if Mayo seniors weren’t so desperate on frees v Galway in semi final 2011 i don’t think O’Connor would be put on frees for that final and may have lost. Funny how things work sometimes.

  99. The visit to Mike Solan’s house was perhaps a little more than inadvisable as WJ suggests. I tend to disagree with the argument that because it may have been done before James Horan’s nomination was received in some way mitigates what happened. If this is the case then they visited him before the close of nominations, which is jumping the gun. In my previous post I made no suggestion that if Mike Solan is appointed that it is a stitch up, merely that his appointment would be perceived by many, rightly or wrongly, as tainted as a result of their inadvisable visit. And this of course is unfair to Mike himself. People in their position should know better. They need a better sense of what is appropriate and how matters like this can be perceived.

  100. Visiting a nominees house before or after been nominated seems badly judged,
    From what I’m sensing James Horan won’t be next manager as not so sure county board want him

  101. I’m continuing in paranoid mode and I make no apologies for it.

    The paranoia centres, as I said in a previous post, on what I think the County Board are up to. They had Rochy and they let him go. But why? We’ve all speculated on this and followed the minutiae of the comings and goings leading up to the exit. Could there be a clue in Mike Connelly’s comments (reported in Hogan Stand) of 25th July – not long after the Kildare game?:

    “If you look at that Kildare game, guys towards the last ten or fifteen minutes were dead on their feet. The weather conditions didn’t suit our age profile either, but we definitely need to bring youth to the table,” Connelly told the Western People.

    “At this stage, we’ve a lot of players the wrong side of 30 and we have to be looking towards the future, we have to be developing young players and if that means struggling in Division 1… we’ve got to start building again, that’s my view. I’m sure Stephen will identify with that.”

    Plain as a pikestaff. The real issue (for Mike) is the players – the same players who got rid of Pat and Noel. They didn’t do it (win the big one), despite their heave against the management, and the Kildare game proved that they are finished. Rochy was probably seen as too committed to those players, (too beholden?), so why not make life difficult for him to continue in that case.

    Horan from this perspective is worse. He will keep them on way past their sell by date. A new manager with no baggage, can get rid of them, and based on Mike’s views he’ll have full backing of the County Board. Player power can be eliminated, at least for another 5 years, and that’s a lifetime in this game.

  102. I think you are spot on catcol. It is a great political trick and we had our eyes on the wrong ball. We thought Stephen was the target and got caught up in all that debate, where he was just collateral damage in the bid to get rid of many senior players before Connolly’s term is up. It stinks and I do Mike Solan’s appointment, if that is the decision, will be tainted

  103. Comparing James Horan’s start as senior manager with Mike Solan taking the reins now is not a like for like situation. When Horan took over we were rock bottom. We could afford to take a risk on a young manager because the only way was up. It’s a totally different situation now. We’re at a very delicate place where we cannot really afford to take risks. There are still certain expectations surrounding the team despite a poor season and I’m sure the team themselves have high expectations for themselves. There’s been a lot of drama recently and what we need deaperately is a known steady hand. That is James Horan. I have a lot of respect for Mike Solan and I think he has loads of potential for the future, but this isn’t the right time for a gamble.

    However I agree with those who are cynical about the county board. I wouldn’t trust them as far as I could throw them and I do believe they have their own ideas, the chairman in particular, whose position became untenable for me after the treatment of Rochford.

  104. Agreee fully with the last few comments – they want the senior players out. Success and everything else seems secondary. When we see how wretchedly Rochy was treated, nothing will shock me. What can we do now???

  105. No James= no money rolling in. Hopefully for that alone they’ll do the right thing. Players will benefit much better too.and at end of the day that’s all that should matter.

  106. should Horan now invite Solan to join him , I for one think he should as Solan knows the younger players better

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