Mayo have proved over the last 3 years they can beat any team on any given day and when they have lost to the bigger teams its usually been by only a score or two, usually because of bad tactics, a bit of bad luck or bad refereeing.
When you are that close to other big teams, it really does come down to small things that make the difference such as a decision going against you or making one or two tactical errors.
Unlike a lot of people such as TCDstudent, I do believe this Mayo team has what it takes, even if you stick with most of the team that started against Kerry. Obviously you change your formation and team to match your opponent...ie they have a 6"5 full forward, we need to put in a new full back. But like I said the core of the team is good enough to win an AI.
Horan was a great manager, but unfortunately, he persisted with flawed tactics too often and was loyal to some players when they should have been dropped.
I don't think Connelly has done anything particularly special as a manager. Co-Manager for the under 21 team, fair enough, but he was co-manager and it was under 21s.
This is senior football we are talking about where you have to be a tactical genious. I also thought Castlebar were lucky to make the club AI final last year. They equalised late against St. Brigids when injury time went on too long, Colm Cooper's injury was a stroke of luck in the semi-final. As for the final, they had no plan to deal with Diarmuid Connolly who was the main danger man. He dictated the play and none of the Castlebar players got near him. We can't afford tactical naivity like that for Mayo.
As other posters have said, this Mayo team, which many consider a golden generation, will be over the hill in a few years, and if we don't get this particular managerial appointment right, we could be back into the dark ages again or sufferning more near misses.