Ex-boss James Horan linked to return to Mayo helm

As his name continues to be linked with the Mayo senior manager’s position, Westport have been given no indication that James Horan won’t be remaining on in charge of their senior team.

Having served as Turloughmore senior hurling manager last season, the two-time All-Star took the reins of up-and-coming Westport last December and has guided them to two championship wins from two, the latest coming against Hollymount-Carramore on Saturday.

Speaking from training last night, Westport club chairman Charlie Lambert said it was business as usual.

James is manager of the Westport senior team and will be going forward, as far as we’re concerned. We’re preparing for championship and it’s full steam ahead and will be until we hear differently.

Lee Keegan-led Westport claimed an All-Ireland intermediate title at the start of 2017 and, having avoid relegation last year they are considered dark horses this season with Horan at the helm. In the event Horan does return to the county position he vacated in 2014, he could double-job, as long as Westport have championship interests.

Sources close to the Ballintubber man believe he is interested in a second term as Mayo manager, but might have to be approached as opposed to publicly throwing his hat in the ring. Horan and Jim McGuinness are set to appear at a Newstalk event in Croke Park tomorrow evening, along with Aidan O’Shea.

Friends of Horan, who has stated he would find it difficult to manage a county other than Mayo, have noted how he has continued to keep abreast with the modern trends of inter-county Gaelic football as an analyst across three media platforms, while continuing to manage.

Contacted yesterday, Rochford was keen to draw a line under the matter of his decision to step down as manager and move on in the best interests of Mayo football.

Mayo’s first All-Star Johnny Carey said the episode was an unfortunate one and the only way to make amends is by appointing a suitable successor.

I don’t know the rights and wrongs of it, but I could see from a distance that, over the last month, something was not right. What has happened has happened and we need to get the right person in now.

“I wouldn’t be critical of Rochford. I don’t know what shenanigans were going on in the background, but I wouldn’t be happy with how it came about. I would be disappointed with the way it came out and whether he should have continued or not is another matter.

“I would have been disappointed with how things were handled before Noel Connelly and Pat Holmes were appointed, when things didn’t appear to be done properly in the appointment process. The right people have to be brought in now.”

Carey is adamant the position remains an extremely attractive one and that the county have an enviable blend of experience and youth.

I wouldn’t be as pessimistic as some people. I go to all the games and I could never fault the team for their commitment and they have almost got there on a few occasions. My hope is that they get the right people in, going forward.

“I don’t subscribe to the view that the team is finished, nor that we don’t have enough young players coming in. It takes time for some fellas to make it at senior level. Cillian and Diarmuid O’Connor and David Clifford would be exceptions in making the grade straight away, but it takes commitment and perseverance to achieve success and fellas have to learn that.”

Meanwhile, former Mayo manager John Maughan will take over from Paul Rouse as the Offaly senior football manager. Maughan had been linked with the vacancy left by Colin Kelly in Westmeath, but will return to inter-county management for the first time in just over 10 years to lead the Faithful County in 2019. The appointment means he has served as manager in all four provinces, having been at the helm in Mayo (twice), Roscommon, Clare, and Fermanagh.

He will be ratified by the county board after he was recommended by the selection committee of chairman Tommy Byrne and Pauric Pierce, Vinny Claffey, and Eddie Fleming. As of yet, there is no indication of the identity of Maughan’s management team.

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