Tuesday 21 January 2020

Aidan O'Shea opts for club in Test tug of war

Zach Tuohy catches the ball ahead of Sharrod Wellingham during Ireland’s comfortable first Test victory in Cavan
Zach Tuohy catches the ball ahead of Sharrod Wellingham during Ireland’s comfortable first Test victory in Cavan
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

All Star nominee Aidan O'Shea is set to line out with his club Breaffy in Sunday's Mayo SFC final and step out of the Ireland set-up for Saturday night's decisive second Test against the Australians.

The powerful midfielder revealed he was "leaning towards" concentrating exclusively on his club commitments – and Ireland boss Paul Earley is expected to name his replacement today.

Breaffy take on parish rivals Castlebar Mitchels in what is their first appearance in a senior decider, and that looks set to take precedence for O'Shea.

"Ideally I'd like to play both but it's the first time the club have been in a county final and we are playing our arch-rivals," he said. "It's a tough decision but I'm probably leaning towards playing only for the club. After getting a taste of Saturday night, it's very hard to say no to playing for Ireland as well."

O'Shea is the latest International Rules player to be caught in a club versus country tug of war.

Ireland were without the experienced International Rules player Ciaran McKeever last weekend as his side Cullyhanna were involved in the Armagh SFC final, while captain Michael Murphy helped Ireland to Test victory before guiding Glenswilly to the Donegal title on Sunday afternoon.

Paul Flynn's participation had been thrown in doubt after his Fingallians side were fixed to play in an important league match on Saturday afternoon before it was moved. Tyrone's Sean Cavanagh also hit out at the county's fixture-makers as his club Moy had been due to play early on Saturday, only for the weather to see the game postponed.

O'Shea admits he was tempted to follow Murphy's lead and try and combine both duties, pointing out that the interchange in the hybrid game cuts down fatigue.

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"I enjoyed the experience and the chance to go up against them again intrigues me. I probably only played 25 minutes the last day and I felt the next day like I could play a game again. That's playing on my mind that I could probably play both games.

"At the same time, the risk of injury is probably high and you don't want to downgrade the fact we are in a county final, so it's about getting it right.

"It is possible (to play both) but the significance that it is our first county final is something I have to consider – it would be a massive achievement for the club to win the title."

Ireland have one hand on the Cormac McAnallen Trophy after a commanding win in Kingspan Breffni Park on Saturday night. But whether the code will survive much beyond next year's series scheduled for Australia remains to seen.

DISAPPOINTED

"Any of the players who are involved want to play this game," O'Shea insisted. "The last time it was being played, I didn't even get asked to go to a session and I was very disappointed because I wanted to get picked. I want to see it stay in the future because we get to pit ourselves against professionals. Hopefully the series will stay.

"People that watch it are probably looking at the game like it was a game of Gaelic football, but it's different and you have to appreciate that's its different. I was talking to Alan (Freeman) and Dessie (Mone) and they enjoyed the game, though some people were giving out about it.

"(Australia) struggled in the first half and they must have gotten a bit of a talking to at half-time because they put on much more pressure with their tackling when they came out for the second half. We let them back into the game and I think they'll be a lot better with the round ball next week and it will be much closer."

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