James Horan talks up possible return to Mayo football
Former manager says there is ‘possibly exciting times’ ahead for the county
Then Mayo manager James Horan during the All-Ireland SFC semi-final replay on August 30th, 2014. File photograph: ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan
The prospect of James Horan returning as Mayo football manager appears that bit closer after he himself admitted “there’s possibly exciting times” ahead for the team, and that he’d “just love to help them in some way”.
It’s a fair claim on the position Horan held from 2011-14, during which time he guided Mayo to back-to-back All-Ireland final appearances and four successive Connacht titles; standing in his way is 2016 U21 All-Ireland-winning manager Michael Solan, the only other candidate in the race to succeed Stephen Rochford, who stepped down last month after failing to agree terms of his reappointment with the county board.
Both Horan and Solan are now expected to be interviewed for the position within the next week, but in the meantime Horan has outlined some of the motivations behind his potential return, particularly what he feels is the depth of emerging football talent within the county.
“I’m a Mayo man, I love coaching, I’m involved in coaching for a number of years now,” Horan told the Western People on the aftermath of Westport’s Mayo SFC quarter-final defeat to Breaffy. “There’s a very good team there and I just think it’s a very good time in Mayo football. We have a Centre of Excellence being developed, we’ve some very good underage players coming through. You saw Colm Moran and a few of them that I’ve been involved with in Westport [as manager], so I’d be very excited about what’s coming through as regards the youth talent that’s in Mayo.
“If you squash that in with the experience that’s there, I just think that there’s possibly exciting times and I’d just love to help them in some way. I’d have a philosophy on how I think the game can be played, the steps that Mayo could take. Through what Liam Moffatt has done with the coaching academy, I think there’s a lot of very good coaches around Mayo and a lot of bright ideas starting to take shoot. It’s important that all of that is aligned and linked up.
“So even in that, there are 10 or 12 players I would think are very close, if not ready, to be introduced to county. So it’s all those things, I think, could be pulled together.”
Nominated for the position by his own club Ballintubber, Horan has yet to hint at the make-up of his backroom team, except to say he’d been approached by a number of “high-calibre” people.
Solan, meanwhile, has reportedly secured the services of Tyrone’s three-time All-Ireland winner Enda McGinley as part of his backroom team. Solan was manager when Mayo beat Cork to win the 2016 All-Ireland U21 title, their first in 10 years, and was in charge again this year in the new U20 grade when Mayo lost to Kildare by one point in the All-Ireland final. McGinley was part of Tyrone’s All-Ireland-winning teams in 2003, 2005 and 2008 under Mickey Harte.