Seamus O'Shea backs brother Aidan to produce the goods
By John Harrington
Former Mayo midfielder, Seamus O’Shea, has backed his brother Aidan to produce a big performance in the All-Ireland Final against Tyrone.
The Mayo captain had a poor game by his high standards against Dublin in the semi-final and was eventually substituted.
Seamus believes that experience will give his brother an extra motivation to have a major say in the All-Ireland Final.
“It's like anything, as a player you want to play well and you want to contribute and be a part of it,” said O’Shea.
“And when you don't play as well as you'd like or as well as you're capable of you're going to be disappointed in yourself.
“At the same time Aidan is captain of the team and has been around a long time so I think the over-riding emotion was that he was just thrilled for everybody and then disappointed that he wasn't able to help out a bit more or play as well as he would have liked.
“But that happens and, to be fair, it probably hasn't happened to Aidan too often in his career. It happens to all players at some stage where you just have a bad day, it doesn't go for you, and you get taken off.
“It has happened to me and in some ways it's good because it can focus the mind a little bit going forward where you have to go back to basics a little bit and look forward to the next game and try to redeem yourself.
“Look, he'll be fine. It was a bad day at the office but he'll move on. I'm sure he'll have a big Final and Mayo will need him to have a big game as well.”
The semi-final might not have been a good day for Aidan O’Shea, but the youngest O’Shea brother, Conor, should have been pleased with his contribution to the win.
He brought some real physical intensity to Mayo’s play after his introduction as a substitute and played a big part in the second-half revival that saw them bring the game to extra-time and eventually win it.
“I was delighted for him,” says Seamus of Conor. “He’s had a tough couple of seasons. Conor’s been there since 2012 I think, so he’s been there a long time.
“In certain seasons, he’s been a really important player for us. In ‘16, he was a really important player for us. He was one of the first subs in. He was out of favour a little bit since. He made a couple of really important plays the last day.
“He was involved in the Evan Comerford one which ended up in a free that led to Robbie’s point. He’s put in a huge shift over the last few years to get back involved and yeah, as his brother, just thrilled for him to contribute like he did.
“Hopefully we’ll see him again in another couple of weeks with another good performance.”
For many years Seamus O’Shea was Mayo’s driving force from the middle of the field but he’s now been supplanted in that role by Matty Ruane.
O’Shea has been hugely impressed by how his Breaffy club-mate has blossomed in the last two years having taken some time to nail down a starting place in the team.
“Of all the positions, it’s probably difficult to establish yourself as a midfielder early on,” says O’Shea. “Matty is 23, 24. It just takes time because physically it’s difficult to match up with some of the guys you’re going against.
“I’m sure Matty was impatient at times, trying to get in but sometimes you just have to bide your time and you can see it in him physically over the last few years that he has come on a huge amount.
“That’s a credit to him, it’s coming through in his performances on the pitch but I think he’s just become a much more consistent player as well. Early on, he’d have mixed the good with the bad.
“Two or three good things and then two or three bad things. But he’s eliminated a lot of that from his game now and he’s just far more consistent with his game.
“The other thing is, he puts huge pressure on the opposition midfielders because it’s a nightmare trying to mark a fella like that who’s constantly going forward and constantly trying to put you on the back foot.
“You spend more of your energy trying to mark him than trying to get involved in the game yourself. I’m delighted to see the improvements he’s made this past year and he’s one of the form midfielders in the country, there’s no question about that.”
O’Shea believes the midfield battle will be key to determining the outcome of the All-Ireland Final against Tyrone.
Brian Kennedy and Conn Kilpatrick have been a rock-solid duo for the Ulster champions this year, but O’Shea hopes they’ll find themselves on the back foot against Mayo.
“It’ll be important,” says O’Shea of the midfield showdown.
“I watched the Tyrone-Kerry game again and I’ve been impressed by the two guys in midfield. They’re solid and they get the job done.
“Morgan hit them with a few good kick-outs when they isolated them up the wings. Their match-ups, whether it’s with Matty (Ruane) and (Conor) Loftus or Matty and Diarmuid (O’Connor) is a bit different in that David Moran and Jack Barry were a little defensive the last day, allowing them to sit back a little bit.
“The Mayo lads won’t do that so it’ll be interesting to see how that match-up works out. But yeah I imagine they’ll have a plan for Matty because he’s been such an important player for us.”