As his team prepare for a trip to Longford for their first round qualifier on Saturday week still without Ian Ryan, the Mayo native insists players won’t “bother their arse” with a Tommy Murphy Cup-style competition.
Limerick are hoping to get back on track after an 18-point mauling against Cork in a back door system where they have performed well under Horan.
But with Roscommon also suffering a comprehensive defeat at the weekend, the disparities between Division 1 counties and others are being spotlighted again.
“It’s no time to panic, if this pattern of one-sided results continue to manifest itself then we’ll have to look at doing something but we can’t break up the championship and segregate teams because players just won’t go for it,” said Horan.
“Managements won’t get involved either because a secondary competition is not appealing for anybody who has ambitions of playing in Croke Park or a provincial final. It’s just not attractive to players and managers and they would be crazy to bring it in.
“We all got hammerings in Munster but Tipperary will come good and Limerick have been competitive for the last decade.
“But when you’re in a county like Tipperary or Limerick and you’re down a few players you’re under pressure. Cork can bring on subs better than most of their starting players.
“I’m certain there would be no interest in a Tommy Murphy Cup — players just wouldn’t bother their arse. They’d play something else or go to the US for the summer.”
Horan believes the competition between a cartel of counties that made this year’s Division 1 the strongest it’s ever been has pushed them further ahead.
“This is an out-of-pattern year — some teams got bad beatings which might have been forecasted but there were some freakish results as well.
“The Division 1 teams are streaking ahead and you can almost group the rest of the teams in the one division because there are a lot of similarities outside of Division 1.
“Getting week-in, week-out exposure to Division 1 has given these teams a massive advantage. They’ve had championship-like games whereas the rest of the teams haven’t had anything like that.”
Limerick will travel to Pearse Park likely to be without their top forward Ryan again after he missed last month’s Munster quarter-final defeat to Cork with an ankle injury.
“Ian is coming along well but he probably won’t be right for the Longford game. He’s not far off, everything’s going according to plan but he needs another two or three weeks to be fully right.”
Admitting his players were “very low” after the Cork game, Horan prepares for another dart at the qualifiers, from which he’s brought Limerick to an All-Ireland quarter-final in 2011 and a third round tie last season.
“We can say Munster hasn’t been good to us and we’ve taken our second chance well in the back door but you can’t keep doing that and say ‘we’ll be fine in the qualifiers’.
“You’ve to make your own luck and we’re anxious now to show that the Cork performance was an out-of-pattern one. This is my first time with Limerick in the first round and there was going to be no easy draw.”
Horan also thinks his troops can take something out of the county hurlers’ fine victory over Tipperary last Sunday week.
“They had their backs to the wall and they showed what they’re capable of doing. There would be a lot of supporters in our panel for the hurlers and vice versa. They would know each other and it has given them a lift. You can’t beat winning, it’s great for morale.”