Ó Sé: ‘Mayo in top three’
DARRAGH Ó Sé says there’s a positive aspect to the rumours that swirled around Mayo after this year’s All-Ireland final – and Kerry legend insists there’s ‘oodles of talent’ in this county.
The four-time All-Star was speaking at the ninth annual Mayo News/O’Neills Club Stars charity banquet on Saturday night, where he was the special guest. In a question-and-answer session with Master of Ceremonies Mike Finnerty, the former midfielder said that Mayo are one of the top three sides in the country, along with Dublin and Kerry, facing into 2014.
“If Mayo want to beat Dublin [next year], they’re just going to have to put on a few gears,” he said. “But looking at what I’ve seen tonight and looking at the county final – I saw it on TG4 – there’s oodles of talent there. You’ve buckets of talent, and what’s crucial in the modern game is [that] the age profile of this Mayo team is super … James Horan is lucky that he has that competitive nature within the panel. I think that bodes well.”
The six-time All-Ireland winner identified Stephen Cluxton as the difference between Mayo and Dublin in 2013 – and suggested that the rumours which circulated in the aftermath of this year’s final defeat weren’t all bad news.
“When you lose a big game like Mayo lost this year, there’s always rumours,” he explained. “We had it in Kerry as well. I always see the positive out of that because … if they weren’t talking about you, you’d be in trouble. It’s a good sign … if people are that concerned about it … If you go to Mass, you’re talking about football; if you go to the pub, you’re talking about football. That interest is there.
“So that means you always have a chance. That interest, that means that young people are listening to old people [and] they’re saying [to themselves]: ‘the only way to get noticed here is by playing football’. And that means that football will never die around the place.”
There were lighter moments during the exchange too, and plenty of laughter as Ó Sé explained the soft spot he has for his namesakes, Aidan and Seamus, by the fact that ‘they’re Kerrymen!’ His description of fellow pundit David Brady as ‘shocking shy’ brought the house down, and plumped for the Ballina man as the best Mayo footballer he ever togged out with – even after being given a chance to change his mind!
The An Ghaeltacht clubman said it was ‘a great thing’ to see football ‘take over a parish’ during a good run, and recalled seeing ‘guys going to games who never went to games’ during his side’s run to the All-Ireland club final of 2004.
But, asked what advice he would offer Castlebar Mitchels and Kiltane ahead of their All-Ireland semi-finals, the TV3 analyst said players needed to hold their nerve as the excitement built around them, adding: “You’ll have plenty of time afterwards to enjoy it”.
“When you win a county championship for the first time in so many years,” Ó Sé reflected, “and you meet a guy that you haven’t seen for ages and he’s out on the field and he’s crying there beside you … when you see emotion off guys that you have never seen before … it’s an amazing feeling.
“Those moments, they’re very fleeting, so they’re only memories. They’re there forever more though in your head. They’re special moments, and they’re to be cherished and enjoyed. But at the same time, like the lads know going into semi-finals, just grab it. Grab it and don’t let it go.”
Ó Sé: ‘Mayo in top three’