Monday 19 March 2018

Horan buoyant over Mayo rise as Fitzmaurice 'stares down barrel of a gun'

Mayo manager James Horan is interviewed by journalists after the game
Mayo manager James Horan is interviewed by journalists after the game
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Mayo combined the polished and the rusty, with the former outweighing the latter by enough to steer them into winning mode for the first time this season.

That was James Horan's assessment of a victory that not only took them back into the race for a place in the Division 1 semi-finals, but also confirmed that their ambition levels are rising in line with the lengthening days.

The positives? "We got a great start. We've been creating seven or eight goal chances in every game – it's about taking them and taking the right shot when they come along. Alan Freeman got a great goal starting off – that was the key to our momentum," said Horan.

The negatives? "We were poor at times. The scores Kerry got in the first half were way too easy. Every time we looked like we were getting momentum, we let them back with an easy score," he said.

Ultimately, Mayo's momentum was enough to wear Kerry down, leaving Eamonn Fitzmaurice deeply frustrated. "We struggled in the second half again. It's becoming a bit of a worrying pattern. We only scored 1-2, which isn't nearly enough. We got chances in the last 10 minutes and if you're going to win, you have to take them," Fitzmaurice said.

"Look, we're staring down the barrel of a gun again. We're in a situation where we've nought (points) from three games. We need to get points on the board."

Tyrone are next up for Kerry in Killarney next Sunday, a game Fitzmaurice's men must win to kick-start their season.

"Semi-finals are a fair bit from our minds. It's just about trying to get a win," said Fitzmaurice, who was disappointed to lose two defenders (Shane Enright and Mark Griffin) to black cards.

Mayo were lucky that Andy Moran escaped a black card for a foul on Daithi Casey late in the first half, but were helped by the fact that the Kerryman didn't go to ground.

"I think as the championship goes on and coaches get their heads around it (black card), you'll see more players go to ground when they are fouled," said Fitzmaurice.

Horan was pleased with the manner in which his side negotiated their way out of difficulty at various times.

"We kept at it. We were making lots of mistakes, but we played through them and were deserved winners in the end," he said.

Getting off the mark lifts a huge weight off Mayo shoulders, especially with a hectic schedule ahead over the next month.

"You want to get a few points on the board, because it impacts on what you do at training. There were a lot of good things, a lot of rusty things. We will bounce in on Tuesday and be looking forward to next weekend," said Horan.

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