Mayo manager James Horan is enjoying a “fascintating journey” as his side prepare for another All-Ireland Football final this weekend.
Horan has led the county to three Connacht titles in succession and there is yet another opportunity to end the 62-year wait for an All-Ireland success against Dublin on Sunday.
While there is pressure to finally bring Sam Maguire back to Mayo, Horan is pleased to see his team improving under his leadership.
He told RTÉ Sport: “It’s always a fascinating journey and you’re learning all the time. There are new things popping up all the time. We have a lot of experience from last year as regards the prep for the final – that’s good to have in the back pocket we’ll certainly use the lessons we learned.
“I just think we are improving year on year. This is a three year project and we’re in the third year of it. This year we’ve put an increased focus on the skills of the game – right from the basics right through to tackling.
“Our ball retention is good. Our first touch is good. Our kicking and hand passing have improved dramatically. They are the things that make us more effective when we have the ball.
“We’re keeping our heads down. We’re working hard on the training field to try and prepare as well as we can for September 22nd.
"Mayo people have learned over the years about how to prepare for a game as well. It’s important they enjoy it too. It’s an occasion for them.
“For us it’s about playing a game of football and getting the best performance we can possibly get. They do their thing. We do ours.“
"This is a three year project and we’re in the third year of it - James Horan
Many believe Mayo have overcome their inability to perform on the big stage, with wins over Donegal and Tyrone on the way to the final filling the county with confidence ahead of this clash with the Dubs.
Horan is lifted by the manner of the win over Tyrone and the strength of the panel going into this final.
He said: “Tyrone are a difficult team to play. We hadn’t come up against a team like them throughout the Championship. It took us a while to get to grips with it. They started the game very, very well and shook us. But we came through it.
“We changed and adapted as we needed to throughout the game. We got stronger and stronger as the game progressed – that was very encouraging from my point of view.
“We had eight or nine serious injuries right throughout the league, so in one way that forced us to use a lot of subs and we had quite a number of players who played National League.
“That has stood to us in the course of the Championship. You saw that against Tyrone. A couple of those guys came on and did very well for us. We have a very strong panel. It’s very competitive.”