TO OPEN UP DOORS TO KERRY TRAINING
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.
(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