Sunday 25 August 2019

Rumour mill a fact of life in GAA, admits Diarmuid O'Connor

Diarmuid O'Connor of Mayo, with, Sean Fitzgerald and John O'Keefe of Killinure NS, Co Limerick, during Launch of the GAA 5 Star Centres at O'Connell Boys National School & Croke Park in Dublin. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Diarmuid O'Connor of Mayo, with, Sean Fitzgerald and John O'Keefe of Killinure NS, Co Limerick, during Launch of the GAA 5 Star Centres at O'Connell Boys National School & Croke Park in Dublin. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Mayo star Diarmuid O'Connor insists he wasn't surprised that his team-mate Lee Keegan was forced to clear up rumours surrounding his health, saying they are a part and parcel of life in the public eye.

Last week former Footballer of the Year Keegan publicly denied rumours circulating in the county that he was suffering from MS.

"It was really bizarre and it was unfortunate wherever that rumour started from," said O'Connor.

"I think it was right for Lee to clear it up just for once and for all.

"You hear rumours like this every week in the GAA for whatever reasons.

"I suppose it's the same with anyone in any county. You'd hear rumours. Unless you hear them from the player themselves, you'd just brush them to one side."

The Ballintubber man revealed that he had been at the mercy of the rumour mill himself when, in 2016, it did the rounds that he had walked off the panel.

"I've heard a few (rumours). At one stage last year there was a rumour going around that I'd walked away from the team.

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"Yeah, my phone was hopping that day. I didn't know what was going on. You always hear rumours like that day in, day out.

"It's all right now. You wouldn't believe any of it unless you heard it from the player themselves.

"I don't know really (how they start). You wouldn't know where they'd start from but there always seems to be a few rumours.

"Mayo supporters are so crazy about football that they maybe just want to be talking about football all the time and if they hear a story like that they might just be talking about it with a lot of people.

"As I said, they are just GAA-mad. It's unfortunate that rumour started about Lee. We wouldn't believe anything about it unless we heard from Lee himself."

The Mayo panel had their first official meeting since the All-Ireland final last weekend.

They'll head off on a team holiday in late December before knuckling down for the new campaign and O'Connor admits last September's defeat cut as deep as any of the defeats that went before.

"I suppose in a way it is, but you never really get used to that feeling. There's nothing we can do about it now, we'll just get back to the training pitch and back to the gym, train harder and do any little bits we can for the year to come.

"You never really get used to the feeling, it's kind of hard to get over it but you just have to put it to one side and move on."

"We had a debrief there last weekend, we just met up and it was the first time we met up since the game.

"I think it's important to meet up and just move on and lay out what's to come for the next few months and plan for the year ahead.

"As I said, it's important that we out things to one side now and move on and out all of our focus on the year to come."

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