Sunday 19 January 2020

Colm Keys: O’Shea hails brother Aidan’s calm reactions

Mayo midfielder admits he was 'stupid' to respond to Cooper

Seamus O’Shea is all set to face Tipperary on Sunday and, below inset, with brother Aidan before Mayo’s win over Tyrone. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Seamus O’Shea is all set to face Tipperary on Sunday and, below inset, with brother Aidan before Mayo’s win over Tyrone. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Goading and provoking the top stars is a fact of life in all team sport, and players and management shouldn't waste too much energy on it, Mayo midfielder Seamus O'Shea believes.

The issues was raised after the recent All-Ireland quarter-finals when Tyrone's Sean Cavanagh and Dublin's Diarmuid Connolly were red carded, leading their managers Mickey Harte and Jim Gavin to speak out about the targeting of top players.

Mayo's Aidan and Seamus O'Shea. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile
Mayo's Aidan and Seamus O'Shea. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile

While neither of Connolly's yellow cards had their source in provocation, the Dublin attacker has reacted to other incidents this year, prompting Gavin to highlight what he faces.

O'Shea says it's been "going on for years".


"Has there been any stage in the history of the game where forwards weren't targeted? That's always going on. In every team sport," he said.

"This craic of roaring and shouting at a fella is probably not nice on the eye. But it's not something we do as a team. Other teams do it. We don't get involved. It certainly hasn't happened to me much.

"It doesn't happen around the middle of the field too much anyway They don't say it to me. I am not considered one of the top players. They don't bother.

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"It's a big topic at the moment. Obviously teams are going to target the opposition's best player. I think that's always been the case."

O'Shea himself was the target of a provocative nudge from Dublin's Jonny Cooper well after the ball had gone early in the second half of last year's All-Ireland semi-final and his reaction earned a black card when he dragged Cooper to the ground.

He has accepted responsibility for his departure that day.

"First of all it was stupid of me to react. Generally I don't react in those situations," he admitted."My disciplinary record is very good. And for whatever reason I just reacted that day.

"If the referee is telling me it's a black card, it's a black card. But for me the black card is more when kind of it's on the ball, when you pull a fella down, stuff like that. So, the fact it was away from the play I didn't really expect it.

"You shouldn't react, but the fact that it was off the ball, I always thought a black card is more for cynical fouls. At the same time I put myself in a position where the referee had to make a decision and that is my own fault."

O'Shea's younger brother Aidan is a regular target but it's something Seamus feels he deals with admirably.

"To be fair to Aidan he doesn't react to it. He's 6ft 4ins and if he throws an arm or something like that he is probably going to be sent off because he is a big man, it is fairly obvious.

"He is cute enough to know he can't react. He just has to keep his head down. He's too important to the team to react to that kind of stuff. It's just something he knows is going to happen. He just gets on with it."

Mayo have recovered steadily after their Connacht semi-final defeat to Galway in June with victories over Fermanagh, Kildare and Westmeath before a one-point win over Tyrone.

O'Shea (29) reckons it was inevitable that they'd eventually lose their footing in Connacht. "What did we win, five in a row? Realistically, we weren't going to win 25 in a row. It was going to happen at some point. Roscommon or Galway or someone was going to take us out some evening. Unfortunately, it happened this year.

"It wasn't something we wanted to happen. We enjoyed winning Connacht titles, it has been good to us. It makes the road a bit easier coming through the front door. You guard against it as long as you can. Unfortunately, it just didn't happen for us this year.

"We knew we weren't as bad as we looked against Galway. We knew we had plenty more in us, even though we weren't playing well throughout the summer. We felt like there was a big performance in us last time."


O'Shea feels the tactical adjustments made by the new management are working and were part of a natural evolution.

"If you keep doing the same thing and getting the same results you probably have to try something different," he conceded.

"When new management comes in they are going to want to try something different. You set up in a way that you think is going to help you win the game and that could be different week to week or game to game.

"The way we played previously seems to get a bad rap because if you lose an All-Ireland final by a point or you lose two All-Ireland semi-final replays you must have been doing something wrong. The reality is they are close games that could go either way."

The "serious clipping" Tipperary gave to Galway has Mayo primed for what to expect in their sixth successive All-Ireland semi-final on Sunday.

"It's no major surprise, they've been coming for a while," said O'Shea. "They won an All-Ireland minor title, came close to winning an U-21 title. They've been improving the last number of years. They're a fairly serious outfit."

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