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O’Shea back in the midst of it all


IN THE SPOTLIGHT Aidan O’Shea played his 122nd match for Mayo last Saturday night against Kerry. He was named man of the match by RTÉ. Pic: Sportsfile


Mike Finnerty

NO current Mayo footballer generates as much debate and divides as much opinion as Aidan O’Shea.
Everybody it seems, with even a passing interest in Mayo and Gaelic football, has a theory on where his best position is and how to get the most and/or best out of him on a regular basis.
His displays are always analysed in minute detail and every success and failure seems to be magnified on national television, social media platforms, and here in the local media.
It seems to go with the territory of being Aidan O’Shea; a 28 year-old from Breaffy with six Connacht championship medals, two All Stars, and four All-Ireland senior final runner-up prizes.
Not to mention more than 46,000 followers on Twitter and another 59,500 over on Instagram.
Every time that Mayo play, everybody expects O’Shea to deliver. And it’s been like that since he made his senior debut ten years ago in a league match against Derry.
Last Saturday night in Tralee, he was named as RTÉ’s man of the match after a powerful midfield performance where he crashed, banged, and walloped his way through as much work and Kerry men as he could manage in around 80 minutes.
Before the ball was even thrown in, O’Shea could be seen jostling with Tommy Walsh in the middle of the field.
And not even an outrageous shower of golf-ball style hailstones before half-time could knock him out of his stride.
Put simply, he was in one of those moods.
“Yeah, definitely, crazy enough conditions,” he mused afterwards as he accepted his RTÉ man of the match award. “I’m kinda used to it now at this stage, the crazy couple of nights we’ve had down at MacHale Park recently.
“They were tough conditions for both sides, ten minutes before half-time the hailstones came in.
“I think the first half, in particular, kind of set us up for the second half .
“But we kept the scoreline [tight], [there were] three points in it at half-time, and we were fairly confident coming out for the second half that we’d be able to get the job done.
“And thankfully the goal came at the right time as well.
“The Dublin game definitely wasn’t good enough and the Galway game, we felt we left a lot behind us that day,” he added when asked about the importance of getting back to winning ways again.
“So there’s nothing better than a Saturday night game against Kerry, who were in form, on Paddy’s weekend, to get the juices flowing again.
“Thankfully we got a performance out of ourselves and are going back up the road with two points. Getting the ‘W’ was the main thing.”
Having been presented with the RTÉ crystal, O’Shea then showed another side to his big personality.
“Can I just dedicate that to Alan Freeman, who used to be a team-mate of ours. His father passed during the week, a big Mayo fan who’d usually be on the road with us, Tom Freeman, this one is for you.”
It was a nice, thoughtful, personal touch, and a lovely way to round off a fine night’s work.
Next Sunday the spotlight will be back on him again.
You get the feeling he wouldn’t want it any other way.