Daily Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - GAELIC GAMES - BY PAT NOLAN

JOHN MAUGHAN says he can’t see Mayo end­ing their All-ire­land hoodoo in 2019 de­spite James Ho­ran’s re­turn.

Like Maughan in 2002, Ho­ran has taken on the job for a sec­ond time on the back of los­ing two All-ire­land fi­nals in his first stint but the re­cently ap­pointed Of­faly man­ager doubts whether there’s enough left in Mayo’s stal­warts to mount an­other ti­tle bid.

Hav­ing lost fi­nals in 2012 and ‘13 un­der Ho­ran, Mayo were beaten in the 2016 and ‘17 de­ciders un­der Stephen Rochford be­fore mak­ing their ear­li­est Cham­pi­onship exit since 2010 this year af­ter los­ing to

Kil­dare in a third round qual­i­fier.

“Is there an­other tune in Mayo?” won­ders Maughan.

“There are many out there who might think they’ve missed the boat.

“Tom Par­sons

(right) will be lucky if he makes it back, al­beit I read yes­ter­day that he hopes to get some min­utes of Cham­pi­onship come sum­mer. Big ques­tion mark there.

“Sea­mus O’shea (right), 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 (above), 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 for 60 min­utes? I doubt it very much. He might think dif­fer­ent be­cause he has been amaz­ing the last cou­ple of years.

“Mayo, re­al­is­ti­cally, can they win an All-ire­land in 2019? I don’t think so. But they’ll al­ways be there or there­abouts.”

How­ever, on the other hand, the ab­sence of a drain­ing run to the lat­ter stages this year could help rein­vig­o­rate Mayo’s vet­er­ans to some de­gree.

“The break will have done them hor­rid-good,” says the Cross­molina man. “If we get some of those, the likes of Keith Hig­gins rein­vig­o­rated again. I watched Diar­muid O’con­nor last Satur­day night, he was awe­some play­ing mid­field for his club.

“He will prob­a­bly slot in to a mid­field role. Get some­one to dove­tail with him.

“It’s amaz­ing what can hap­pen in a few short 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 cer­tainly war­rant con­sid­er­a­tion.

“I don’t think it would take a whole lot to get them up to in­ter-county stan­dard. So in many ways I wouldn’t rule them out com­pet­ing.

“Mayo have been re­mark­able the last num­ber of years in the way they keep bounc­ing back.”

The fact Ho­ran has taken on the job for an un­usu­ally long four-year term sug­gests he is look­ing to build a team for the fu­ture rather than on a short-term ba­sis.

“He ob­vi­ously recog­nised that,” says Maughan. “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. Last year they should have been dead and buried by Derry in Castle­bar – came out of it. Very poor against Clare. Cork should have beaten them too.

“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 tal­ent com­ing through.

“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 and chal­lenge the Dubs.”

some train­ing ses­sions in Kil­lar­ney to the pub­lic again.“I can see why it was done, talk­ing about the lad that was up the tree in Kil­lar­ney a few years ago. I can un­der­stand why they did it.“I don’t think it is hard and fast, but I wouldn’t be clos­ing the gates all the time.”Keane has taken Tommy Grif­fin and James Fo­ley from his suc­cess­ful mi­nor set-up hav­ing de­liv­ered three All-ire­lands at that grade, with renowned coach Donie Buck­ley re­turn­ing and Mau­rice Fitzger­ald, one of Fitz­mau­rice’s selec­tors and a club­mate of Keane’s, stay­ing on.Keane con­tin­ued: “Donie Buck­ley is a top class coach and very ex­pe­ri­enced and was will­ing to get on board the week af­ter the All-ire­land. “We gelled well to­gether, and Mau­rice was a no-brainer, we’re friends from way back. When I got mar­ried he was my best man. “Af­ter I fin­ished with St Mary’s, he took them on and went on and won an in­ter­me­di­ate All-ire­land, been in­volved in last two years, im­por­tant to have link from last year so that we weren’t com­ing in to­tally new

to the play­ers.”On the prospect of Kerry up­set­ting Dublin’s five-ina-row bid in 2019, Keane added: “I sup­pose I haven’t even a panel picked so where would I start on that one with­out a panel?“That’s like dig­ging a field and you don’t even have a shovel, we’ll get the shovel first and then we’ll start think­ing about that one,” he smiled. WILL­ING Donie Buck­ley agreed to come on board as Kerry coach

UN­FIN­ISHED BUSI­NESS James Ho­ran on Thurs­day night at his un­veil­ing and, left, an­other two-time Mayo boss John Maughan

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