O'Shea preparing for much more 'streetwise' approach from Galway
Published 26/05/2015 | 02:30
Aidan O'Shea is expecting a more "streetwise" Galway when Connacht's most celebrated rivals meet for the third successive year in the provincial championship on June 14.
Mayo will be among the last three teams out in 2015 championship action while Galway have had two games to date but already there is evidence of what type of game to expect.
O'Shea admitted the concession by Galway of an estimated 42 frees against Leitrim in their quarter-final was a "strange statistic".
"I didn't see the game but Galway will be a bit more streetwise this year," he predicted.
"In the last couple of years they've played six on six all over the field and we've dealt with them quite easily.
"So they'll definitely play a bit more defensive. It's not in their nature to do that but they've got some great footballers up front so they might be able to drop one off into their defence.
"They'll be a lot stronger than they have been over the past couple of years. I have no doubt about that with Gary Sice back in the team, their midfield a bit more experienced, Paul Conroy there too, a quality footballer."
Despite their recent dominance over Galway - they have won their last three meetings convincingly - O'Shea admits there is always a lack of confidence among their support when Galway are on the horizon.
"Whenever we play Galway, regardless of how well we are playing, they think we are not going to win for some reason, there's a lack of confidence among our supporters.
"Every time it comes around, there is talk that Galway are going to overthrow Mayo. I suppose in 2013 we probably felt we didn't have the respect we deserved at the time. But Galway have definitely progressed since we played them last."
O'Shea has already accepted the prospect of a more defensive Mayo team and admitted yesterday, at a reception to launch AIB Bank's sponsorship of the GAA football championship, that he would "possibly" have an All-Ireland medal now if they had been more protective.
"But then on the flip side people will say it's the way Mayo play," he added. "We've always played this way. It suited our game as well at times. We've got massive athletes around the pitch to play the way we've played over the last couple of years under James (Horan). It was a mentality we had.
"We had chances to win those games, Dublin and Donegal. Obviously the goals against Donegal were a killer and against Dublin we could have been out the gap after 25 minutes the way we were playing. Ifs, buts and maybes, I suppose."
Any change to Mayo's style will be a "tweak" and not a radical overhaul, he says.
"There's still room for Lee Keegan and the Donie Vaughans of this world to express themselves higher up the pitch but I think it's just the overall theme of the way we play.
"We just need to be a bit more structured, think about what's going on behind us rather than just playing in front of us all the time."
He accepts that change could take something from Mayo. "It may do. But I would prefer to win 0-12 to 0-10 than lose 0-18 to 0-17.
"If you can control the tempo of the game a bit more and maybe dictate the terms and not leave it so open at times to be caught on counter-attacks, I would prefer to win the game."
O'Shea felt he had a productive league in a range of positions from midfield to full-forward where he began his career under John O'Mahony in 2009 and sees improvement in the way the team is defending despite the nature of the defeat to Dublin in March.
"Our performance levels were very up and down," he said. "Even against Kerry in the first game, we probably didn't play that well. We got the win but you could see we struggled for a few games and obviously got the blow-out loss against Dublin.
"Against Cork and Donegal we did look defensively strong for the most part. There were signs of improvement there."