O'Shea: 'The last time we were in London we should have lost'
Aidan O’Shea isn’t concerned about Mayo’s eight week gap between the Allianz Football League and Championship.
Mayo won three of their last four matches to survive in Division One ahead of next month’s Connacht preliminary round clash against London in Ruislip.
“We are fairly attuned to it the last few years,” O’Shea said about the break. “It is just your training patterns. We don't have to have as much work done at this time of year, compared to other teams as they are playing Championship in three or four weeks' time. It has worked well for us over the last number of years, we have been right for when we have needed to be.”
Back in 2011 Mayo were fortunate to survive a serious scare at Ruislip when extra-time was required before defeating London. “The last time we were in London we should have lost, so we have to be wary of that and Roscommon and Galway have definitely improved and we had tough games against Galway last year, we got a lucky goal after half-time that sort of pulled us away.”
O’Shea can recall a particularly tricky encounter in London. “We missed a penalty early on in the game, Aidan Campbell missed a penalty, we missed a few frees and London just grew in strength, they got a goal, a high ball in, and flicked in. And then it started to snowball. It was a strange, strange atmosphere there, big crowd and all of a sudden, nothing going right for us.
“Myself, Trev Mort (Mortimer) and Kevin Mc (McLoughlin) came off the bench and the lads got two big scores in injury-time. To be honest, I thought we were gone that day. It was a crazy, crazy atmosphere, something I will never forget. It took us literally to the last second to turn it around and thankfully, we got the job done in extra-time.”
On Saturday Mayo face Dublin in an interesting EirGrid All Ireland under 21 semi-final at O’Connor Park, Tullamore, and O’Shea is optimistic about that crop of players, who claimed a first Connacht crown in the grade since 2009.
“They are a good team,” O’Shea admits. “There’s been a lot of pressure on those shoulders for the last couple of years for anyone who has played under-21 for Mayo.
“It was my first year at under-21 the last time they won a Connacht championship so it was too long. They are a very talented group of lads and obviously we have a good crew of them in with us at the moment.
“Dublin are churning out young fellas every day of the week so they are going to be a very tough task at the weekend.
“That was a real test against Roscommon where to be fair they didn’t really deserve it for long stretches, and they kind of sneaked it in the end which is a great sign of a team.
“They obviously won the All-Ireland minor title three years ago and they have some very strong characters in that dressing room, so hopefully they can get the result at the weekend.”