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Horan praises leadership of experienced players as Mayo are promoted

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Mayo manager James Horan praised the leadership of their more experienced players as they secured promotion back up to Division One of the Allianz National Football League.

A four-point victory over Clare in Ennis was enough for them to go back up to the top division, on the same day neighbours Galway were relegated.

2-22 to 2-18 was the final score at Cusack Park.

Horan felt their positive start was vital, but it wasn’t a perfect performance.

“We built up a good lead in the first half, some excellent play, I was very happy with it – our movement, how we pressed, what we were trying to do was all very solid.

“We got ragged then in the third quarter, so we need to sort out a few things there, which we will.

“I thought towards the end some of our more experienced guys – Lee [Keegan] and Aidan [O’Shea] got on a lot of ball and just calmed it down to run out winners.

“Lots of stuff to be very happy with but there is stuff we need to stop doing, for sure.”

The win means Horan’s side go straight back up after being relegated last year.

He feels being in the top tier, facing the best opposition, will bring their younger players on.

“It’s [promotion] good for us. you saw some of the younger guys we are bringing through.

“It’ll be great for them to play top-level opposition and that’s what you face in division one so it’s good from that point of view.

“We got a right test today though from a very good team and it shows areas that we need to improve on so I’m happy from that regard.

“We’ve to play championship in two weeks time so to be honest I’m happy now there isn’t a league final at this stage.

“We found out where our fitness is and everything else, it’s warm out there, we learned a lot from today for sure.”

Cillian O’Connor makes no mistake with this penalty for @MayoGAA v @GaaClare in the Allianz Football League Semi-Final #GAANOW pic.twitter.com/qsRYKOylM1

— The GAA (@officialgaa) June 13, 2021

Clare had a purple patch in the third quarter, scoring 2-5.

Horan felt this highlighted their ability but also how crucial it is not to let concentration drop at any stage.

“The two high balls in, we should have dealt with them better, if you take those two out of it, it’s slightly different.

“We should have managed it better though.

“I thought one or two of us maybe held on to the ball a bit longer than we would have in the first-half, we got turned over, got a few shots blocked down.

“It’s amazing how if you drop it a fraction how quickly it can all build up.”

Mayo begin their Connacht Senior Football Championship campaign against Sligo later this month as they look to retain their title.

It’s widely believed you can’t contest an All-Ireland Championship while playing Division Two football.

Horan though is hopeful this won’t be the case for them and feels Sunday’s test was good preperation.

“Clare are a really good team, really well organised.

“We knew it was going to be hard so we prepped hard for this.

“We went a bit ragged in the second half and they exploited that, nut I felt we recovered well to hold on for the four-point win.”



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