Thursday 26 April 2018

Martin Breheny: Aidan O'Shea has made unsubstantiated allegations against the Irish Independent

O’Shea: Unhappy with coverage. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
O’Shea: Unhappy with coverage. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Aidan O'Shea is unhappy with the message but has decided that can wait while he takes aim at the messenger.

The message came from Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly, in the form of a searing critique of their experiences as Mayo joint-managers in 2015 and the Irish Independent was the messenger.

O'Shea claimed on Tuesday that the exclusive interview with Holmes and Connelly, carried on December 17 last, was 'factually incorrect' but he declined to elaborate or offer a single rebuttal.

Instead, he made unsubstantiated allegations against this newspaper, specifically how we dealt with comments made by the former managers about him.

They had said in the interview that he had complained after being informed in early 2015 they would not sanction his participation in the 'Toughest Trade' TV documentary, which would have seen him link up with Sunderland soccer club. Holmes/Connelly told the programme producers not to contact Mayo players again as the GAA season had started and they wanted the full panel to focus on Mayo.

They also said that later in the season they received an email from O'Shea expressing his and other players' surprise that a certain panel member was not making the match-day squad for the All-Ireland quarter-final clash with Donegal.

O'Shea could have addressed both issues swiftly and conclusively on Tuesday but instead said it was "not the time or the place," while indicating he would revisit them at another time.

He also told the media, while appearing as a guest at a commercial launch event for the All-Ireland championships, that he wasn't "going to get into it because I didn't get the right to respond at the time (of the interview)."

That is incorrect. And he had another gripe over how we handled the interview, which is equally unsustainable.

"It's factually incorrect and that's unfortunately the way the paper wanted to write it," he said.

On the right of reply charge, this is the actual position. If O'Shea, any other member of the panel or indeed the squad collectively, sought to react to the contents of the interview, we would have carried it in as much detail as they wanted. We received no such request and when we inquired what the situation was, we were told that there would be no response to the interview from the players.

As for "the way the paper wanted to write it", I can be even more specific, since I conducted the interview. Neither I - nor the paper - wanted to write it in any particular way, other than as a straightforward interview.

The content opened a window into the Mayo dressing-room and was bound to leave the occupants uncomfortable but that was nothing to do with us.

Deeply hurt by being forced out in the harshest of circumstances after only one season, Holmes and Connelly gave their version of events in raw detail previously unheard of in GAA management.

Were we supposed to turn down an exclusive and explosive interview in case players, who demanded the joint-managers departure under the threat of strike, might be upset by what the two men had to say?

O'Shea is perfectly entitled to deal with the ex-managers' comments whenever and whatever way he wishes but his attempts to portray our handling of the interview as somehow less than ethical are as unfair as they are unfounded.

Having several years of dealing extensively with the media, O'Shea knows well how interviews work. Indeed, he has featured in his paper many times so to imply that we had an agenda is unfair. Why should we?

Also, if as he claims, it was 'factually incorrect', why wait for a commercial event over four months later to say so? Why not give his version of events last December?

It would be long over by now, but instead O'Shea has re-focused attention on the ex-managers' damning assessments by claiming that they were 'factually incorrect', without saying why.

Unwittingly or otherwise, he has drawn further attention to what he termed "an interview in a dull week in December."

It's unlikely that Stephen Rochford will be overjoyed by his intervention just over two weeks before Mayo begin their Connacht Championship campaign against Sligo or New York in Castlebar.

Irish Independent

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