James Horan hits out at "bonkers" stories and "incredible" claims after Mayo's All-Ireland loss
"There's stuff out there so far from the realm of truth, that it’s crazy."
It has been a little over a month since James Horan and Mayo's latest All-Ireland Final heartache. The wounds are healing, but harsh words and wild accusations are still festering.
Having soundly run away from Dublin in extra time of their semi-final win, many had backed Mayo to finally win their third Sam Maguire. When Tyrone clipped Kerry's wings in the other semi, a surge of optimism pulsed through Mayo.
In the final, though, several goal-scoring chances were squandered and Tyrone held the day. The recriminations have been bitter and have seeped from September to October.
Horan, who is in his second stint as Mayo boss, says he was waiting to talk to the county board before he spoke with the media. Having done so, he appeared on Midwest Radio this morning to have his say on a few matters.
"On the 11th of September, it was very disappointing for us," Horan told host Tommy Marren. "On the day, we didn’t play to the best of our ability… there’s no-one more disappointed than me, the players and their families."
There has been talk, in the Mayo GAA ether, about a rift between Horan, his coaches and the county selectors. A clip of Horan shouting at coach James Burke was 'taken out of context' while he and Ciarán MacDonald are in constant touch, already planning for 2022. Asked if 'something happened' on All-Ireland Final day, Horan responded:
"No, is the answer. I didn’t realise this was [talk] was happening but a couple of my mates highlighted it to me, but I find it incredible.
"The amount of untruths that were published on this is just phenomenal. Ciarán Mac, James Burke and myself have been working over the past number of weeks to plot and plan for the new season. That's really where we need to be.
"The stories generated, or whatever, it's actually incredible. Maybe when some people take a breath and reflect on some of the stuff that's been written, they might wonder themselves.
"Ciarán Mac has been in my house, I don't know how many times. We maybe talk four or five times a day, plotting and planing on what we can do... and I'm working with James.
"I know there was a clip going around of James Burke saying something to me. There was a couple of hundred people behind us. It was a little bit noisy, so I asked James to repeat what he said, and that was taken a bit out of context, then. To me, it’s bonkers. It's bonkers. That was published and then people ran with it. It was absolutely nothing. It's a complete untruth."
Horan also spoke about the abuse players and backroom staff have been subjected to on social media. While he can accept criticism of his tactics or decisions, when it veers beyond that, and into the personal, he strongly disagrees. He remarked:
"Was it Churchill that said, ‘If you stop and throw a stone at every dog that barks, you’ll never get anywhere’"
On the up-side, he noted, there has been a wave of support and a steady stream of encouraging, uplifting words from people across his county.
"We tried things that we thought would work… but we tried our absolute best," he added.
"Support I’ve got has been phenomenal. Letters and calls I’ve got to the house… Is there pressure on us? Of course there is. With Mayo, there is always going to be."
Horan and his coaching team will get players not involved in the final stages of county championships in for a two-day combine in mid-November as they look at assembling their squad for a tilt at 2022.
Asked if next year would be his last as Mayo boss, he replied. "I’m involved for the next season. That’s what’s important now."