THIS was not how James Horan predicted his championship debut in the Mayo hot seat.
The last two times they visited London — 1996 and 2006 — the Westerners went on to win Connacht and reach an All-Ireland final. Yesterday they scraped past a side that hadn’t won a championship game in Ruislip.
“You can make a load of excuses about travelling and the occasion and how it can put players off, but London were good today and we were a bit off kilter,” said Horan.
“But what I will say is that we did come strong when it really, really mattered and we kicked on, so we’re going to take some good things out of this. When we started to play in the first half of extra-time, then we got suckered by a goal from poor defending but we kept going. Look it, there are good things to be taken out of that, but absolutely it was a gigantic scare we got today. There will be other teams that will come over here in years to come and get similar scares.
“London were organised today, their fitness looked pretty good, they played with great heart and great commitment. They gave us a real battle today.”
They certainly did. It wasn’t until Aidan O’Shea was introduced that Mayo began to gain parity around midfield, where Paul Geraghty was running the show. But, at the same time, Mayo had more than enough chances to win this game. Horan was thankful his forwards finally found their shooting boots late on to force extra-time.
“With two minutes (to go) and two points down, it wasn’t looking good,” he admitted.
“We played in fits and starts and made an awful lot of wrong decisions today — the last pass or a kick or a shot for goal, but we stuck at it and hopefully we kick on from here.”
Next up for Mayo is a meeting with Galway on June 26. Much improvement is required between now and then, but Horan insists his side will be ready for the challenge.
“Galway in Castlebar; form goes out the window,” he said. “We know what we have to do and we’ll go and do it.”
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