Saturday 23 September 2017

Pat Spillane: Stephen Rochford can use Aidan O'Shea to exploit one of Dublin's few weaknesses

26 August 2017; Aidan O'Shea of Mayo after the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final Replay match between Kerry and Mayo at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile
26 August 2017; Aidan O'Shea of Mayo after the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final Replay match between Kerry and Mayo at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Pat Spillane thinks that the use of Aidan O'Shea could decide next Sunday's All-Ireland final - and that Stephen Rochford would be best served by sticking him on the edge of the square.

O'Shea has been moved around regularly during his Mayo career, having stints at full forward, centre forward, midfield and even fullback, with Rochford's decision to detail him on Kieran Donaghy in this season's two semi-final clashes against Kerry generating a lot of debate.

O'Shea came in for criticism for his performances in the drawn All-Ireland final with Dublin and the subsequent replay last season, but Spillane thinks that the two-time All Star could be the man to hurt Dublin next Sunday.

Writing in his Sunday World column this week, the Kerry legend praised Rochford's recent use of O'Shea, and offered some advice on how he could do enough damage against Jim Gavin's men to finally deliver Mayo the Sam Maguire.

"Stephen Rochford doesn't get the credit he deserves as a coach," Spillane said.

"Remember, he was at the helm when Corofin, playing a wonderful brand of football, won the All-Ireland club title."

"Rochford's decision to switch Aidan O'Shea to fullback in the drawn semi-final could have backfired. In the face of over-the-top criticism he persisted with the tactic in the replay, but there were subtle changes," he continued.

"O'Shea played for spells at midfield, which enabled him to get on the ball. This forced Kieran Donaghy on the back foot and allowed O'Shea to play the game on his terms.

"I would play Aidan O'Shea at full forward because if there is a weakness in this Dublin team it is in the fullback line. Allow O'Shea to drift out to midfield at times, but don't leave him isolated on the edge of the square as they did in 2015."

O'Shea is enjoying one of his most productive seasons in a Mayo jersey, and is currently 2/5 to win an All Star.

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