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Limerick 'bizarre' choice

IN his post match media address, James Horan used the word 'bizarre' three times.

Which, coming so soon after a game with so many peaks, troughs and contours, mightn't seem particularly bizarre in and of itself were he not talking about the venue for the replay.

"I think it's bizarre," he began, tapping immediately into a theme.

"Five PM playing in Limerick doesn't make any sense to me...but we will play wherever. Once we are on a football field, we are on a football field but it doesn't make any sense."

The optimistic addendum to his initial statement is typically Horan.

The Gaelic Grounds has a GAA pitch. Mayo are a football team. And making excuses in advance has never been Horan's style.

disservice

But though he didn't say it himself, there is a certain disservice done to the first All-Ireland semi-final replay since 2008 (Kerry and Cork) by playing it away from HQ.

"It's bizarre that it's an All-Ireland semi-final that can't be played in Croke Park. If you just think about that, that's bizarre," Horan repeated, when asked to double-back on his initial thoughts.

"It's not ideal playing the game in Limerick. And I'm pretty surprised that's the case but we'll check it out during the week and we'll be ready wherever it's played."

Asked whether Mayo's GAA politicians would now lobby to postpone the replay until Saturday, September 6th in order to stage it in Croke Park, Horan responded in the affirmative.

"I'm working with the county board at the moment and that would be out preferred option. If that works, great; if that doesn't work, great."

It's not great, though.

Whatever about the American Football game between University Central Florida and Penn State already scheduled for next Saturday in Croke Park, quite why the replay needs to take place on that very night is a mystery yet to be solved.

Noises from within Croke Park yesterday suggested ticketing and stewarding - given Horan's proposed date is just 24 hours before the All-Ireland hurling final - would be an issue but it seems a weak enough explanation.

aggrieved

Especially for those who don't get a ticket.

The official capacity of the Gaelic Grounds is 49,500. Yesterday's attendance was 52,496.

And Mayo, in particular, might feel aggrieved.

The stadium is 166 Kilometres from Castlebar and 110 from Killarney but Kerry's greater familiarity with the venue is bound to be some class of factor.

Which is maybe why Eamonn Fitzmaurice didn't seem particularly perturbed.

"It's an unusual one all right," he reckoned.

"At this stage of the summer we love coming to Croke Park we love playing in Croke Park, the players love coming up here.

"Even small things like logistical issues now...will we go the night before? We never go the night before to Limerick...(so) we probably won't.

"A five PM game is something that is slightly different so it will probably have a bit of an unusual feel to it. At the end of the day it is an All-Ireland semi final it doesn't matter where it is on really."

Fitting that both teams are getting a second shot, though.

Kerry deserve it for their tactical ambush in the first half and their Hail Mary resuscitation job late in the second.

Mayo deserve it for that ballsy period just after half time when they almost exploded with desire.

Horan gushingly described the patch as "probably as good as any team has played.

"Fellas just stood up. It was exhilarating to watch to be honest. We had guys who weren't just going to lose."

"This team," he continued, "over four years, has just kept going all the time. What they showed today, you cannot but admire what those guys showed today.

"Hopefully there'll be some good stories about it."

gripe

Horan's other gripe was the sending off of Lee Keegan for flicking out his foot at Johnny Buckley.

In this, he had the agreement of most right-minded people in Croke Park (bar, crucially, David Coldrick) but perhaps not the law.

"I just had a look at it there on video. To me, it's not a sending off. No way," he said.

Though asked if the letter of the law had had been correctly applied, Horan made some concession.

"The way I look at is, he was being held on to. It was like a shrug to shake him off more than a kicking action I would say," he reckoned, adding that Mayo would be pursuing an appeal.

"I'm not blaming the referee. You can see how it would be seen. But to me, if we're getting straight red cards for that, the game is going down."

Really though, you couldn't escape the feeling that Kerry blew it yesterday, more so than Mayo.

Maybe to the point of carrying some psychological advantage going to Limerick next Saturday.

"We were lucky in the end, we know that," Fitzmaurice admitted.

"It was really a case of snatching a draw from the jaws of defeat. We showed great character late in the game to come back into it.

"But you'd question why we were in that position in the first place. Delighted with the spirit the lads showed late on certainly but we've plenty to be working before next weekend."

character

"I think you've to give a lot of credit to Mayo," he added. "They showed real character in how they went after the game in the second-half.

"They really came after us with 14 men in the second-half. We sat off them, we sat back, which wasn't something we planned to do.

"We made it a lot harder for ourselves than we needed to do. If you'd asked me with five minutes to go, would I take a draw, I'd have snatched your hand off."


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