Victory yesterday was made all the sweeter for James Horan in silencing the Cork management after their remarks about Cillian O’Connor and Kevin McLoughlin.
An angry Horan described the comments, in particular made by selector Ronan McCarthy, as “a new low” and “a disgrace”.
“I suppose our character was challenged in the lead-up to this game as well by the Cork management, which I think is unprecedented in Gaelic football, where a management team name players.
“For us it was taking the integrity of two of our players and of our team and I think it is something that is disgraceful and they should be ashamed of what they done. Does that make victory sweeter for us? It probably does.
“I just think it is a new low when you have opposition management naming specific players and taking their integrity and their good name. We have coaches and we coach and we try and play as well as we can all the time within the rules of the game.
“They (Brian Cuthbert and McCarthy) will face the Cork public after that, but we are happy with where we are.”
Horan said Mayo made no attempt to contact Cork about the comments.
“No, look, we contacted them there in the game out there today. That’s where we do our stuff.”
Of McCarthy’s claim that O’Connor and McLoughlin were “good at tactical fouling”, Horan said: “I know it’s not right so for someone to come out that flippantly — Ronan McCarthy in particular to say that — I just think is completely wrong.
“I think that’s a dangerous area, that if management can say anything they want about anyone, not knowing anything about them or the values or what we try to do as a team, how we try and play.
“We’re the ones who try to play the game with an attacking-based football, open and free-flowing, we’re not the ones who put everyone behind the ball. So I just found it a particularly poor reflection on the Cork management.”
He continued: “Some people might think I’m overreacting but when you see the effort those guys put in and they’re the most honest guys you’d come across, Cillian O’Connor and Kevin McLaughlin, I just think it’s wrong. And when I think it’s wrong I’ll say it.”
Horan himself referenced Joe McQuillan in the build-up to the county’s 2012 All-Ireland semi-final against Dublin.
However, he defended his actions: “I haven’t heard anyone mention players and specifically target players before. I mentioned Joe McQuillan before because he had reffed A versus B games for Dublin, it’s as simple as that.
“I think it is a fair thing, all I was looking for was fairness. But to target players’ character I think is just disgraceful.”
Horan acknowledged Mayo haven’t yet hit the heights they demonstrated at this stage last year when seeing off Donegal in spectacular style.
“Yeah, we are not at that level yet, definitely. But I suppose we are winning games and getting a little bit better and showed glimpses today of I suppose where we can get to.
“We just need to sustain that and do that for longer periods of games because as we progress it obviously gets tougher. Yeah, we need to up our game, but we will.”
Horan revealed he substituted Cillian O’Connor, just after he had posted a point, as he was suffering from cramp.
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