Friday 23 February 2018

'Mayo are in a great position' - James Horan says Tyrone have 'inflated' view of Dublin


Former Mayo manager James Horan. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/SPORTSFILE
Former Mayo manager James Horan. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/SPORTSFILE
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Former Mayo manager James Horan believes Tyrone pair Mickey Harte and Seán Cavanagh have an "inflated" view of Dublin after their All-Ireland semi-final hammering.

Cavanagh insisted the Dubs were the best team he'd ever played against, while Harte echoed those sentiments in the wake of their All-Ireland semi-final defeat at the hands of Jim Gavin's side, prompting many to predict a Dublin win in Sunday's All-Ireland final.

And while Horan agrees that Jim Gavin's side have improved since last year, he believes Tyrone were architects of their own downfall to some extent.

"(Dublin) are definitely better than last year," said Horan, who will work as a pundit on Sky Sports' coverage of Sunday's showpiece.

"I thought they were tired at the end of the season. They have Jack McCaffrey back and they have changed what they are doing and they are better than what they were. I think their S and C (strength and conditioning) and how they have (approached) their season is right.

"Seán Cavanagh was saying a lot after the game as well but I just don't think Tyrone turned up on the day. I think that Mickey and Seán's opinion on Dublin might be inflated and it might make it a little bit easier on themselves than anything else.

"But Dublin are definitely better. They have players at the top of their game and look to be coming really into form so I'd agree with that side of it that they are a better version of last year."

Despite Dublin's improvement, he still believes his former charges are in a "great position" to end their long wait to claim Sam Maguire.

"During the course of the year, Mayo have gone back to some of what has been very strong for them. Look at the replay against Roscommon, they just attacked from everywhere with support runners.

"Taking risks, really trying to shake the game up. They did that in the later stages against Kerry as well. So Mayo are in a great position."

And Horan insists Mayo will have no issue with Joe McQuillan taking charge of the game. The Cavan official was the man in the middle for the controversial 2013 All-Ireland final.

After that game, then Mayo manager Horan stated Mayo were told they would have more time to find an equaliser when Cillian O'Connor tapped over a late free that reduced the gap to one, while Gavin insisted that they were "playing the referee" as well. But Horan believes the referee's decisions will "balance itself out".

"It's never about the ref or it can't be about the ref. Yes, everyone will do their research about the ref from previous games and what his quirks are and what he looks for, and maybe the way he interacts with players.

"Both teams will have gone through that in detail, so they'll be clear on the type of ref he is and what he does and doesn't let go..

"I suppose there is a feeling that he lets things go, so both teams will be very well-versed in that and play accordingly. I think the ref on this occasion, if you look at the record, he's been involved in games that Dublin have lost and won so it's going to balance itself out. I think you can see that narrative playing itself out a little bit."

And he doesn't believe the build-up to the game will adversely affect either side.

"Dublin are getting the three-in-a-row and the greatest team of all time and all that sort of jazz. They slipped into that a few years ago and got caught in 2014 so I don't think you'll have complacency from Dublin's side.

"Equally, Mayo this team have had everything good and everything bad written about them both within and outside the county so I think the feeling or perception won't mean that much to them."


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Irish Independent

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