Monday 19 March 2018

Conor Mortimer insists O'Connor's fitness will be vital for Mayo to handle heat

Mortimer: Fears Dublin's bench
Mortimer: Fears Dublin's bench
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Conor Mortimer admits he will feel a lot better watching this year's All-Ireland football final than he did 12 months ago after removing himself from the Mayo squad.

Mortimer, speaking at the launch of the FBD Kilmacud Crokes Sevens tournament which takes place on Saturday, said he remains open to a recall to the squad, saying any such offer would be something "you'd have to think about".

However, he acknowledged that he is now 31 and that his life is moving down "other avenues".

Based in Dublin, where he plays for Parnells and is a club colleague and friend of Dublin captain Stephen Cluxton, Mortimer said he accepted he couldn't feel "hard done by" by the events that transpired in the summer of 2012, when he removed himself from the squad in the week of the Connacht final after learning that he had not regained his place.

"I wouldn't say hard done by. It was my decision," he said. "Nobody made it for me at the time. I wasn't waiting for a phone call at the start of the year. I was off doing my own thing.

"I don't think players say to themselves, 'ah, I'm finished playing now'. You just roll on and if it comes around again, good. I'm 31 now, I'm not 21 anymore. I suppose I'm putting my life in other avenues as well. That's just the way it is."

A return is not something he preoccupies himself with now.

"I don't really think about it, to be honest with you, I'm just with my club," he said. "I suppose if you were asked, you'd have to see where you were at fitness-wise.

"I'm doing what everyone else is doing – working and training away and playing with my own club. If somebody asked you, you'd have to think about it."

Watching the final won't bother him like 12 months ago.

"I'm a year older and a year living my own life, really, but I'll be keeping my eye out. I always do and keep in touch with the players.

"It's only on game day you'll miss being out there. Look, like any player you need to be there at the start of the year, you need to be doing the graft to merit playing for any team. You just watch on as a supporter and hope for the best."

The 2006 All Star feels Mayo's prospect will hinge on Cillian O'Connor's participation.

"It depends on whether or not Cillian plays, really," he said. "If he's not playing they're going to be under a lot of pressure. You need everyone firing on all cylinders.

"If the two teams play to their potential, I don't see why Mayo wouldn't win it.

"One thing Dublin have is they have had tougher games coming into the final. Even in Leinster they had a couple of decent challenges, not major, but decent.

"Their bench adds something when they come in. Even if they are 10 points up, the likes of (Dean) Rock and (Kevin) McManamon are looking for scores.

"That said, I just think it's Mayo's year, the way it has rolled out through the season."

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