Don't rule Mayo out, says Horan

May 17, 2017

Former Mayo manager James Horan

James Horan believes his former Mayo charges 'won't be far off' the pace in the 2017 Sam Maguire Cup race.

Speaking at the launch of Sky's 2017 GAA championship coverage, Horan referenced last year's narrow final replay defeat to Dublin to back up his stance.

"It's amusing. People remember the last goal, the last catch whatever it is and that was just the last game of football that was played and it happened to be Dublin and Kerry," he told The Irish Independent.

"There was a lot of other stuff that went on in that league. Look at Donegal's run at the start of that league. Did they pull back the reins later on? There's all that kind of stuff. Tyrone's start and look at the way they ended.

"They are not that bad. And maybe Kerry aren't that good. It's hard to know exactly but Mayo have had a couple of games in the league that they had to win and they won them comfortably and shut themselves down. They were within a Cillian O'Connor free of drawing (in last year's final) so they won't be far off."

First and foremost, Horan is confident that Stephen Rochford's charges will relieve Galway of the Nestor Cup.

They will square up to Sligo this Sunday and the Ballintubber clubman doesn't subscribe to the theory that the absence of a 'marquee forward' will undermine their chances this summer.

"If you had a top-level Pádraic Joyce or a Peter Canavan, that when a team was playing badly and he gets very little ball he can still get a high percentage of scores from shots, that obviously helps.

"Mayo have a lot of good players who mightn't be as celebrated as some of those fellas but if you look back through those games, the replay last year and back over the years, I don't think you could just pin it directly on there not being a marquee forward.

"It's can they win two more kick-outs? Can they reduce the amount of frees they gave away in the scoring zone by two? Can they make sure their handpass completion is five per cent higher?

" It reduces the opposition having one or two shots and they get one or two extra. So there's other ways of getting there if you don't have loads of brilliant forwards, there are other ways of getting there where Mayo will be looking to get something new this year."

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