Padraig O'Hora: 'I just really enjoy it'
By Cian O’Connell
“It’s class, I love it,” Padraig O’Hora says about representing Mayo.
O’Hora has always enjoyed participating in various sports, but isn’t overly interested in watching how other matches and events unfold.
“It was never the be all, end all for me,” he adds. “I wasn’t a kid that had it stuck up on the wall growing up. I wouldn’t say I was that person, but I’ve always wanted to achieve on a personal level, I suppose.
“I’ve also done individual sports like boxing, but there’s nothing quite like collective success. There’s nothing really like bringing a win with a team; that energy that’s created and buzz.
“When you magnify that to the level of even playing for Ballina, I’m extremely proud of playing for Ballina Stephenites. I love playing for my club and then it’s on a bigger level when you step into inter-county to play for Mayo.
“This wonderful county with such history, such quality and then you’re fortunate enough to put on the jersey. I’m grateful for it. I just really enjoy it, it’s class, more than you expect from it even.”
Basketball remains synonymous with the town of Ballina. Mayo manager Kevin McStay and coach Liam McHale enjoyed distinguished sporting careers in both codes. Growing up O’Hora learned many valuable lessons.
“I think they transfer over incredibly bar kick pass and shooting, you’re not really missing any other skill from both games,” he responds. “I think it’s hugely beneficial.
“I definitely played more basketball than I did Gaelic growing up. I absolutely loved basketball up until we lost our Super League team in Ballina. It kind of broke away and then the basketball kind of slowed down around the place.
“My first passion definitely in my teen years would have been basketball. If I was asked to pick at 16 or 17, I would have been gone playing basketball no doubt.
“The two games seem to cross over. Kevin McStay’s the same. The McStays were always very good at basketball in Ballina too.”
O’Hora briefly worked under McHale when he was in charge of Ballina Stephenites. “I would have probably known Liam a little bit more through basketball,” O’Hora says.
“He was obviously an extremely successful footballer and basketballer. He’s probably regarded as the best basketballer that ever played for Ballina, even at a national level he was really good.”
While O’Hora, who will miss the start of the Allianz Football League through injury, has flourished, sport doesn’t dominate his agenda. “I don't watch football really, at all,” O’Hora states.
“I don't watch sport at all to be honest. I am a doer. I'd sooner just be out doing something, active. I would play any sport in the world - anything. I'd play badminton if it was going - whatever - long before I'd sit down to watch a game. That is just my nature.”
Joy was derived through playing. “I started at a young age, I loved it,” O’Hora says. “I loved a load of sports - martial arts, boxing, basketball, Gaelic, I wasn't great at soccer - I had a spin at that, I wasn't great. I've done most sports - a lot of outdoor stuff, but always pursued the football and basketball predominantly.
“The first time I went into the Mayo team I didn't know a lot of their names. I remember getting mixed up between Keith Higgins and Colm Boyle.
“A little bit of anxiety nearly over not knowing who people were, obviously I assumed they assume I know who they are. I didn't really know everybody in the dressing room when I went into the team.”
Did it almost lessen the pressure? “Possibly,” O’Hora replies. “Everybody does it their own way, don't they? Some people want to know everything and anything. That works for them. I don't like to fill my time that way. I don't find it valuable.
“In hindsight when you have a great performance you say I got it right. I'm doing the right thing by not over analysing and then you go out another day, get roasted, and your saying maybe if I did pay a bit more attention or if I did analyse things that mightn't have happened. You know yourself, it is subject to success. That is just how I go about my business.”
It is an approach that continues to serve O’Hora well.