James Horan: Losing final to Dubs like being hit by bus
The "deathly silence" of the last 10 minutes of the All-Ireland final defeat to Dublin in September is one of the stand-out memories of the day for Mayo manager James Horan.
Horan has likened the defeat to Dublin to "being hit by a bus or a train -- whichever is worse" and has described as "nonsense" the fallout from the defeat and the rumours that circulated about some player dissatisfaction.
The Mayo boss said he found observations about the silence in the last 10 minutes of the All-Ireland final "interesting" and something he thought about at the time himself as Mayo were chasing down Dublin's lead.
"When I was thinking back through the game it was interesting about how deathly silent it was. That's something that stuck out for me at the time," he said.
"With eight minutes to go we were two points down. It was like someone was dead around the stadium."
Horan will review his own performance as manager and take time to choose a new selector after James Nallen stepped down but he rubbished suggestions that he didn't listen to his management team on All-Ireland final day.
"You take away stuff from every game, every training, every conversation that you have around the county team," he said. "I'll be looking at everything I've done, as I've encouraged our selectors to do -- and yeah, I was talking to them after the game and during the game, despite what other people may have said."
Horan, in an interview with the 'Western People', revealed that some of his players were "devastated" by the rumours which circulated in the county at the time of the Dublin defeat.
"I couldn't believe how much nonsense was being talked," he said. "When people talk in a vacuum and there's nothing from any of the team or management to counteract what's said, I just find it amazing how people ran with what they heard and blew it out of all proportion.
"There was nothing from anyone involved with the team or the set-up. There was no quote, no mention, no statement, no nothing, yet there were people swearing black and blue to complete and utter rubbish.
"Players have come to me since who have been completely devastated by some of the rubbish and rumours that have gone around and that's completely unfair. I wish there was more noise during the game than what I heard after it.
"In situations like that, if you counteract it or you argue it or you try to put a statement out, you're in trouble. When you're debating your losing! So we let them have their time in the sun, but I think the truth always comes out."
Winning tough games on the road in the league is the "character builder" he wants to pick the team up in 2014. Horan accepts Mayo's league form over the last two seasons hasn't been consistent enough and it's a matter he aims to address in the coming months.
"Winning tough games on the road in the league is a great character builder and we'll be looking to do that," he said. "There's no better preparation for the All-Ireland championship than a national victory. I don't think there's anything you could do in training that would give you a boost like that would.
"There was a time that you might be flat for the championship when you went flat-out for the league. With strength and conditioning and the amount of sports science people we have around, I don't think there's any danger of being flat come championship.
"You can do both. You can go as hard as you like for the league and go as hard as you can for the championship as well.
"It's a very, very big year in the life cycle of this team," he said, looking ahead to a 2014 campaign. "That's the challenge we're facing, but this team has faced many challenges and met them head-on and we'll embrace this one.
"This team has taken two All-Ireland defeats on the chin and didn't whinge or moan or anything. We just come back every single time and try to improve and 2014 will be exactly the same.
"As opposed to two All-Ireland defeats being a weight, if used the right way it will give us an added edge."
Meanwhile, Richie Feeney has acknowledged how club success with Castlebar Mitchels has helped him and his colleagues Tom Cunniffe and Barry Moran ease the disappointment of All-Ireland final day.
"I don't think anything will make up for the disappointment of September, only eventually getting there," Feeney said. "We were lucky compared to the rest of the Mayo lads that we have the club now. That was the thing after the All-Ireland final -- I was lucky enough to go back to a serious club set-up with serious ambitions.
"It took a bit out of me, but I went back training with the club on the Tuesday and that is the only way to get grounded again."