Tuesday, 20 August 2013 12:08
TALKING TOUGH .. Mayo manager James Horan insists his players are equipped with any tough tackling tactics ahead of the meeting with Tyrone in the All-Ireland SFC semi-final at Croke Park. He was speaking at a press conference at Breaffy House Hotel. Pic Sportsfile
MAYO manager James Horan is confident in the ability of his players to deal effectively with Tyrone’s anticipated tough-tackling approach in next Sunday’s All-Ireland SFC penultimate round clash at Croke Park (throw-in at 3.30 p.m.).
In a candid assessment of the much-anticipated encounter, the Ballintubber-based supremo said his charges are capable of making the necessary adjustments to cope with whatever is imposed on them by the opposition.
He said: “We know what to expect from Tyrone. They will try to set the tempo and impose their experience from the outset. They will press us in all areas of the pitch and are very effective in what they do.
“Tyrone have a serious mentality. They have experienced tough times and the suspension of key players will galvanise them. Their manager (Mickey Harte) will do everything in his power to ensure his side wins.
“We will have to make some adjustments. But, from our perspective, the game is all about being as good as we can be.
“We may have an orthodox formation and a standard structure, but we can change things around when we need to. My players are versatile and they can comfortably play in different positions. I believe we are unique in that regard.”
Horan stated his side’s attacking play was of a higher calibre than last year, as factor reflected in a better return rate.
“A high percentage of the our goals have come as a result of turnovers by our forwards That’s a very encouraging trend. It’s also been positive to see defenders like Donal Vaughan coming into the equation in that regard,” he explained.
When pressed on the possible pitfalls as a result of his team being labelled as title favourites in the wake of an impressive 16-point victory over Donegal in the quarterfinal, Horan dismissed it as a non-issue.
“It does not matter to us. We have adopted an approach from the outset to take one game at a time. It may be boring (from the media’s perspective) but it won’t change.
“We have tried to improve with each game and we are still looking to do that. The decision of the bookmakers to install us as favourites has not affected a team that is made up of ambitious guys.
“We have been favourites in every championship game we have played this year. We are comfortable with that. We are where we want to be at this stage of the campaign and we want to play the kind of football of which we are capable.
“The fact we average a goal scored every 22 minutes is simply a product of how we have played.
“As a group, we can’t wait for the next challenge and there is little doubt Tyrone present a huge one. We lost to them in a bizarre national league game despite having more possession than them.
There was a lesson learned from it,” he explained.
The confidence around Mayo Gaelic football these days has spread to the county’s minor squad as it prepares for its penultimate round clash against Monaghan next Sunday at 2 p.m.
Never in the history of the sport in the county has both the Mayo senior and minor teams qualified for the All-Ireland final in the same year, so the potential for an historic double is on the cards.
Minor boss Enda Gilvarry said it did not take him long after becoming manager to realise the players had the ability to go a long way.
“There is a tremendous amount of quality in the ranks and the players have really put in the work. There can be no question about that,” he explained.