Mayo manager James Horan admits his side “can’t wait” to get another crack at Donegal in Sunday’s All-Ireland quarter-final.
Jim McGuinness’s team overcame the Connacht champions in last September’s All-Ireland final 2-11 to 0-13 but Mayo enter Croke Park on Sunday aftre steamrolling Galway, Roscommon and London in the western province.
“We can’t wait, we can’t wait to get cracking,” Horan said at a Mayo press conference on Sunday.
“We are just delighted to be in a quarter-final. Who it was wasn’t an issue, they are all good teams at this stage. We are going well, training well with the injuries clearing up and we are really looking forward to having a crack next Sunday.”
“We had a number of people at the Donegal-Laois match. We looked forward to playing them in the league, we gave a good account of ourselves and won quite well.
“It was an important league for us, we went on to a league semi-final and they were relegated so we are very familiar with Donegal and their approach. It just happens it is them we are playing next Sunday.”
Whilst McGuinness made note of the pitfalls of the increased physicality in Gaelic football on Saturday evening following Donegal’s 0-14 to 0-8 win over Laois in Carrick-on-Shannon.
However, Horan stated that he believes Donegal are the frontrunners in the physical stakes.
“Donegal and their back-room team, they’re competitive, they’re All-Ireland champions,” he said. “Anything that’ll give them an advantage, they’ll try. Last year they mastered many new skills and brought football to a different level on many fronts, particularly in the area around physicality. “They really ratcheted that up last year and put a lot of teams to the sword based on their strength, power and tackling. I don’t know if any of ye have been at the end of a Michael Murphy tackle recently, but there’s serious, serious physicality in that team. They’ve been leaders on that front.
“Maybe we’ve more banter with other teams, that might be a better way to say it. Look it, Jim McGuinness and Rory Gallagher on the sideline, they do their thing. When I’m on the sideline, I just focus on. What can I do to help the team that’s on the field. That’s all I do. I try and stay as composed as I can.”
Horan is also of the opinion that his team are better equipped this year than they were last September as they chase success in the All-Ireland for the first time since 1951.
I think we’ve a stronger team, a stronger panel,” he said. “I think we’ve a better understanding of our game, and what’s needed to play at the top level. We’ve a lot more experience under our belt. And since the All-Ireland final last year, as we’ve done in every game we’ve ever played, we sat down after it, had a look at it, what worked, what didn’t work, what do we need to do better. We identified those areas. They were mainly the areas around skills and skill execution. We’ve targeted those and gone after relentless improvement.”