Relegation battle out of our hands, admits O'Shea
Published 15/03/2016 | 02:30
There is just no escaping it.
Even thousands of miles away on the west coast of the USA while trying his hand at a different sport, Aidan O'Shea was reminded of Mayo's All-Ireland famine.
O'Shea spent a week in California as part of the latest in 'The Toughest Trade' documentaries.
There he pitted himself against some of the America's brightest young talent who were hoping to make their way to the NFL and its promise of fame and fortune.
But late in the planning of the trip, the chance came up to meet Padraig Carney who, along with Paddy Prendergast, are the last surviving members of the last Mayo side to win an All-Ireland in 1951.
Carney moved to the US to practise medicine but flew home to play games for Mayo.
And, as O'Shea discovered, the fire still burns bright. More than 60 years on, Carney is still travelling home for Mayo matches and he will make the trip early in the summer for the Connacht clash with Galway (assuming Mayo beat London).
And all going to plan, he could be back again later in the summer.
"He's mad into it. In his house he's got a basement and it's just Mayo, all his pictures from playing for Mayo, all his medals, he's got GAAGo and he watches it and rings Paddy Prendergast and praises it and gives out - anything any normal GAA player does. He's still mad keen into it and it's good to see."
A fourth defeat in five games at the weekend means Mayo's league future is now out of their hands. They'll have to beat Roscommon and Down in their last two games to have any chance of avoiding joining the Mourne men in Division 2 next season.
"It's out of our control really," the Breaffy man commented. "I haven't looked at the detail, but we have no choice but to win our two games. Monaghan or Cork will have to lose a game for us to stay up.
"It is what it is, we've no choice but to win the next two games. Roscommon up next; they've been very, very good, top scorers in the league I'd say, and it's a local derby. Hopefully it focuses our minds but we will have to up our consistency if we are going to get a win."
The time in the US flew by and the results of his time there can be seen on RTE2 tonight.
He's brought small things home that he hopes might help him out here and there.
"The things that jumped out to me compared to our own game is obviously the stop-start nature of the game but also the complete and utter explosiveness of the game and there's no wasted energy," he said.
"I might be starting on a line and I think I might have started quite well and they are like, 'No forget about it you were too slow getting off the mark'.
"Or I might have left my foot behind me, there was no wasted movement whatsoever because time is everything in their game."
Spending most of his time as the 'big man' in GAA, he was giving away height and weight to pretty much everyone else who tried out in his tight-end position.
"In NFL, a tight end could be 120kg. I'm 100kg so you're talking about serious weight difference. They could be 6' 4" but they're right up to 6' 7" too."
"I knew going over that I wouldn't be anywhere near size-wise to some of them. In the combine I'd say there was, like, even the guys in my category were heavier and possibly taller as well. Guys even in my position would have been similar as well. It was kind of nice (to be the small guy) to be honest."
Generally, O'Shea was happy with how his stats stood up against the hopefuls. The strength and conditioning work was similar. He had a go at kicking but it didn't go as well as one might expect.
"I'm not a free-taker in our game but the likes of (Bryan) Sheehan or (Michael) Murphy or Cillian (O'Connor) or (Stephen) Cluxton (could kick in American football).
"It's literally just repetition of technique and I went out there thinking, 'They throw the ball back and you just run up and kick it' - but it's actually very, very technical.
"I probably didn't appreciate that at the time, I do now. There's definitely ability for some of our lads to be able to do it. But I wouldn't, no."
On the final day, he went up against players whose future was on the line.
"The Saturday was very tension-filled. These kids, there was very little talk between them and I was just shooting the breeze. They walked in, said nothing, got changed and I was like, 'Christ, someone crack a joke!' It was very tension-filled and nervous."
It was a interesting experiment but all his focus is back on Mayo now. Even if the league ends in relegation, they'll have their eyes on the ultimate prize. Inevitably, the subject of Mayo's near misses came up with Carney.
"I asked him, yeah, but he didn't really give me any great insight as to why. He thinks we've been a bit unlucky over the last couple of years. Just that it hasn't fallen our way. But he's confident that we can get it done."