James Horan relishing Mayo return after being rubberstamped by delegates

By Mike Finnerty

Mayo GAA club delegates rubberstamped James Horan’s return as manager of the county’s senior football team last night.

Horan, 47, was handed a four-year term as he was ratified at a full county board meeting at MacHale Park, Castlebar.

An executive committee meeting earlier in the evening had also recommended his appointment.

“I am delighted to be involved with Mayo and am really looking forward to getting on the field with the players,” Horan said in a statement released after last night’s meeting.

“All clubs (senior/intermediate/junior) within Mayo will be contacted immediately seeking suggestions of players that may have the potential technical/tactical/physical/mental attributes required for the inter-county game.

“There has been a coaching movement in Mayo over the last number of years that has been staggering in its progression,” he added.

In conjunction with clubs and divisional boards, we have seen huge advances with clubs across the county driving very high standards. That is something I want to be involved with, and help ensure that progress continues.

“It is busy but very exciting times in Mayo GAA and I cannot wait to get started.”

Horan’s full management team has not been finalised, but last night’s meeting was told that Daniel Forde (Bally-castle) would be Mayo’s new trainer, with Martin Barrett (Kiltane) confirmed as one of the team selectors.

Former Mayo underage footballer James Burke, who has played with Ballymun Kickhams in Dublin for many years, will take charge of training sessions involving Mayo players in the capital.

A number of other additions to the backroom team are expected to be announced in the coming weeks, with some speculation suggesting former All-Star forward Ciaran McDonald may be involved.

Mayo GAA chairman Mike Connelly described Horan’s task “as a big, big job” and highlighted the fact his entire management team were Mayo natives. “I’d like to wish James and his team the very best in the next four years,” said Connelly.

“It’s not an easy task, it’s a big, big job. I’m delighted to see that all his backroom team are from Mayo, that’s something that should always happen.

At a coaching level, and in terms of development squads, it’s one thing developing players, but we’ve never given the opportunity to past players to get involved, become coaches and experience at this level.

“Hopefully in the future we’ll have an abundance of Mayo people involved in coaching, whether it’s with a minor, U20, or senior team.”

Horan returns to the Mayo hotseat just over four years after stepping down after the 2014 All-Ireland SFC semi-final replay to Kerry. He led Mayo to four successive Connacht SFC titles during his previous stint in charge as well as two All-Ireland final defeats to Donegal and Dublin.

“I’m a Mayo man, I love coaching, I’m involved with coaching for a number of years now,” Horan said recently when asked why he had decided to let his name go forward for the role.

“There’s a very, very good team there and I just think that it’s a very good time now for Mayo GAA.

I’d be very excited about what’s coming through as regards the youth talent that’s in Mayo.

“If you squash that in with the experience that’s there, I just think that there’s possibly exciting times. And I’d love to see if I could help in some way with that.”

The father of five succeeds Stephen Rochford who resigned from the position at the end of August, saying that he felt he didn’t have ‘the desired level of support’ from the Mayo GAA executive committee.

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