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'Crazy' onus on senior inter-county managers, reveals former Mayo boss James Horan

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Former Mayo manager James Horan

Former Mayo manager James Horan

James Horan

James Horan

27 November 2014; Mayo's Aidan O'Shea and James Horan, right, at Dublin Airport ahead of their trip to Boston for the GAA / GPA Opel All Star Tour 2014. Opel Ireland is the official car partner of the GAA and GPA. For more information check out www.opel.ie #OpelAllStarTour. Dublin Airport, Dublin. Picture credit: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

27 November 2014; Mayo's Aidan O'Shea and James Horan, right, at Dublin Airport ahead of their trip to Boston for the GAA / GPA Opel All Star Tour 2014. Opel Ireland is the official car partner of the GAA and GPA. For more information check out www.opel.ie #OpelAllStarTour. Dublin Airport, Dublin. Picture credit: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

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Former Mayo manager James Horan

MANAGING a senior inter-county team while simultaneously holding down a full-time job is no longer sustainable, according to James Horan.

The former Mayo boss is speaking from hectic experience, having spent the past four years managing a team that invariably made it to the business end of the race for Sam Maguire.

In an ideal world he would "love" to still manage Mayo, but the twin demands of a management position with Coca-Cola and having five young children meant there could be only one decision once the green-and-red exited this year's All-Ireland race.

Three months after stepping down, Horan is better placed to assess the feasibility of managing an elite county while holding down a full-time job.

"I don't think it's sustainable at the moment," he declared, speaking at the GAA/GPA All Stars football tour in Boston.

"If you want to manage to the best of your ability, everything else needs to row in behind it. If you're only looking for one- or two-per-cent improvement ... you're coaching or managing at a certain level but you're working as well, so if you could get rid of your job you'd be able to commit even more or maybe be a better coach. So it's always going to be pushed to give more and more time."

Time, then, for the GAA to bite the amateur bullet and appoint full-time bosses? "An interesting concept," he mused. "I don't know will that ever be the case but it's a very valid idea.

"If you take a management set-up at inter-county level, in some of the top teams you have 12 or 14 involved and, say, some of the medical (personnel) on that team will be paid to do the role and rightfully so - they're trained professionals at what they do.

"But in a lot of cases you have a manager who's managing that whole group, who's putting in crazy stuff and is not getting paid. And that's the case in a lot of counties. That's not sustainable."

That said, Horan takes issue with the perception that all or even most inter-county managers are coining it in under-the-counter payments.

The issue was recently catapulted back onto the agenda by Eugene McGee who, in his autobiography, asserted that some inter-county bosses are receiving up to €50,000 per annum - in direct contravention of the GAA's rules on amateur status.

Horan described suggestions that every manager is being paid as "nuts stuff", adding: "In my time involved I've never seen one of these contracts ... in my experience it's not the case."

Horan's own four-year managerial odyssey with Mayo ended within hours of that gut-wrenching semi-final replay defeat by Kerry in Limerick.

Exhibition

He is now enjoying a brief and far less stressful management sequel: he took charge of the 2014 GAA/GPA All Stars team which lost out to their 2013 counterparts, 10-7 to 5-5, in a predictably high-scoring exhibition match on Saturday.

"Make no mistake, I'd love to be the manager still," he said. "But life needs to go on and just where I am with work and five young kids. That's all been on ice for four years really."

He hasn't ruled out the possibility of managing Mayo again; "a couple" of other counties have made approaches, but Horan was dubious about managing anyone else.

"Famous last words, that's where I am at the moment ... imagine what Cillian O'Connor and Aidan O'Shea would say to me if I managed someone else? I'd never hear the end of it!"


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