Aidan O'Shea: This Mayo team is probably past its best
Ahead of the All-Ireland final, Mayo star Aidan O’Shea has admitted that Dublin’s opponents are probably past their best.
In an exclusive interview in Saturday’s Irish Independent, O’Shea tells Colm Keys that he and his team-mates are not at their 2014 levels when they lost to Kerry after a replay in the All-Ireland semi-final.
"If I'm being totally honest I think the peak stage is probably gone,” he concedes. “It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out. Some players are coming down the way and then younger players that are trying to bring it back up at the same time. The reality is it's predominantly the same group of players that have been there since James came in in 2011.
"They've battled through and regardless of whether we've had easy routes or not we've had long campaigns and being honest we've had heartbreak at the end of them as well. So I don't think we are in that pomp that maybe we were a couple of years ago. I think the year (2014) we lost to Kerry, I thought we were playing really good football that year.”
As for the current campaign, O’Shea described their Connacht SFC semi-final defeat to Galway as the wake-up that all the players needed.
"I wasn't concerned about the losing but the performance level was really poor,” he recalls. “It stank of staleness. In my performance I look back on myself and I was looking at somebody I didn't recognise and that was the most disappointing aspect – the most worrying part.”
The Mayo powerhouse also talks about the verbal abuse he has taken from opponents during his career and says he has learned to deal with it.
“There is no point in reacting to it – it's what they're looking for, a reaction. I can't let my team-mates down by doing something stupid,” he explains. “They're just trying to look for something, sometimes they want to talk about anything random just to break concentration on what you're doing. It might mean they get one less run out of you and that might be the one that gets that winning score or the lay-off to create a winning score. It happens in all sports. I think we're very pure in the GAA, don't like to see it but it happens in every other sport.”
Read the full, extensive interview in Saturday’s Irish Independent.