Páidí ó Sé: It's a fact, John -- Mayo are great underachievers
His opinion on Mayo upset John O'Mahony, but Páidí ó Sé says he is sticking to his guns
I HAVE no intention, even for the entertainment of my many thousands of loyal Sunday Independent readers, of getting into a lowdown slugging match with Mayo manager John O'Mahony.
In my new year column on these pages, I ranged over counties that I felt had the potential to win the All-Ireland if their talents were properly harnessed. I said that, if I were to go back to management, there are only two counties in the country that would excite me -- Mayo and Dublin. However, it seems John O'Mahony has taken serious exception to my remarks.
Presumably, John O'Mahony is doing a good job in Mayo and he is quite entitled to his opinions. But, then, so am I. I would have thought, however, that John, having become a Fine Gael TD, would have acquired a thicker skin and become a more hardened street fighter.
He has my respect as a football manager, but I still believe that I have my own abilities to bring to the table -- things that Mayo desperately need at the moment.
I heard his broadcast on RTE radio with Marty Morrissey as I was driving home to Ventry and, as far as I can recall, O'Mahony claimed that he could have led Kerry to more success than I achieved during my time as manager of the county.
O'Mahony subsequently added in the Irish Examiner: "I'd like to think that, if I managed Kerry for eight years, I'd have won more than the two All-Irelands he did with them, especially considering they subsequently won four when he left.
"Our championship last season was defined in people's minds and in our own disappointment by the final 15 minutes against Meath, but, in general terms, what we want to do is retain the Connacht championship and build on it from there."
O'Mahony, who in fairness to him, won the Sam Maguire with Galway in 1998 and 2001, hit back at me by saying: "Unfortunately, unlike Páidí ó Sé, I can't predict or guarantee Mayo an All-Ireland."
Well, John, I stick to my guns: Mayo are an underachieving county, there's buckets of football ability there and I would certainly fancy my chances of winning the All-Ireland if they were in my charge.
The facts speak for themselves: Mayo haven't won an All-Ireland since their two-in-a-row in 1950/'51, both teams captained by Sean Flanagan.
Mayo have a serious tradition and have a huge reservoir of natural footballing ability. By that I mean, at its simplest, the ability to go up in the air, catch the ball, land with it and kick it accurately.
In many parts of the country, you will find players doing all sorts of tricky things, switching the ball from A to B to C to D and back to A again, but getting nowhere at the end of it all. They just don't have the natural football ability and know-how that is in the blood and nature of players from counties like Mayo and Kerry.
As CP Scott said, facts are sacred, comment is free. What I give above are facts that can't be gainsaid and my opinions are my entitlement. Good luck to you John in 2010 and if Mayo pull it off, I hope to be first in the queue to congratulate you.
But let's stick to fair shoulders from now on!