JAMES HORAN has launched a blistering broadside against the Cork management for comments about Mayo forwards' alleged penchant for tactical fouling.
The Mayo boss didn't shake hands with Brian Cuthbert at the end of yesterday's All-Ireland SFC quarter-final and the source of his unhappiness soon became apparent. He branded as "disgraceful" the comments of Cork selector Ronan McCarthy, who had name-checked Cillian O'Connor and Kevin McLoughlin in the build-up as being "good at tactical fouling".
A question about Mayo's display of character prompted Horan's tirade. "Our character was challenged in the lead-up to this game as well by the Cork management - which I think is unprecedented in Gaelic football, where a management team name players," he complained.
"For us, it was taking the integrity of two of our players and of our team and I think it is something that is disgraceful and they should be ashamed of what they did."
Asked if this made victory all the sweeter, he replied: "It probably does. I just think it is a new low when you have opposition management naming specific players and taking their integrity and their good name.
"We coach and we try and play as well as we can, all the time, within the rules of the game. For two guys that have struggled this year, to come out and say that, is just not good enough at this level. They will face the Cork public after that, but we are happy with where we are."
Whereas Cuthbert had confined his pre-match 'criticism' to describing Mayo as "streetwise" while calling for strong refereeing, the expanded comments of his selector clearly irked Horan.
"I know it's not right for someone to come out that flippantly - Ronan McCarthy in particular to say that, I just think is completely wrong," he blasted.
"I think that's a dangerous area, that if management can say anything they want about anyone, not knowing anything about them or the values or what we try to do as a team, how we try and play."
Then, in a pointed barb, he concluded: "We're the ones who try to play the game with attacking-based football, open and free-flowing. We're not the ones that who put everyone behind the ball."
Cuthbert, for his part, refused to get dragged into a war of words other than to say Horan was entitled to his opinion. "I'm not going to comment on that. The match is over, it's finished," he said.
As for the non-handshake, he confirmed: "I put up my hand to shake it. That's his own business. I've nothing to say on that."