Hard things to lose, All-Ireland finals. You can sit there as a manager and rage against perceived injustices, or else you man up and be honest about your shortcomings.
Honesty is what James Horan deals in though. Looking back on his own playing career, he never blamed refereeing decisions for the finals he lost, rather a failing in skill levels. It was the same here as he sat in front of the press.
“I suppose during the game regarding our play, there was a lot of… maybe some of the fundamentals of our game weren't as strong as they usually are,” Horan said.
“Our first touch inside was letting us down, the ball was hopping off us a bit and Donegal were sweeping up and coming out in waves so that was difficult to deal with.
“Some of our decision-making today, and our basics skills, let us down today.”
Yes, he acknowledged the slow start and Michael Murphy's goal and he feels that they could have dealt with it a bit smarter.
“The two of them [goals] should have been defended better. The first goal that Michael Murphy got, I think it was one of the first balls in her took a yard and got a very good shot. But it's not like us.
“The second goal was a bit of a lottery,” he continued. “It came off the post, we had it again and we dropped it. That was hard to take.
“I think it was the first goal or the second goal came from when we had it in our corner-forward spot and we dropped it there as well.
“Look, it didn't go our way, so… maybe we should have been stronger there but that was hard to take and it rattled us for a while. But the team showed what they showed us all year, the character they have and the guys that they are —they kept plugging away to the final whistle. We just couldn't get there but we kept trying, kept playing.”
As a result of plugging away, Mayo had clawed their way back into the light, but as Horan said, it was all a bit of a panic. And teams that panic, as he says himself, don't win All-Irelands.
“We had quite a few chances at the start of the second half, some of them were rushed, so maybe a bit of composure there would have helped,” he added.
“But some of the fundamentals let us down today. Of course we can play better but when it comes down to it, some of our hand-passing, our first-touch and our decision-making just wasn't what it needs to be to win an All-Ireland final.”
For a team that had prided itself on conceding only two goals this summer (against Down), conceding those two early three-pointers proved Mayo's undoing.
“If you give a team like Donegal a seven-point start it's going to be very difficult to come back against them,” Horan conceded.
“We stuck at it and had chances, and if we had taken them then things might have been closer.”
- Dublin won their first All-Ireland Minor Football Championship title since 1984 with an efficient 0-14 to 1-05 dismissal of Leinster rivals Meath at Croke Park.