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Oisin’s star is on the rise

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DRIVING ON Oisin Mullin is pictured in action for Mayo against Galway in the National League last October. Pic: Sportsfile

Talking Tactics
Billy Joe Padden

AT the risk of stating the obvious, it’s not easy to make your championship debut and win an All Star and a ‘Young Footballer of the Year’ in the one season. It’s a remarkable achievement, so the first thing I’d say to Oisin Mullin is, ‘Congratulations and well done’.
He fully deserved both accolades because he did so much at an extremely high level during the course of Mayo’s run to the All-Ireland Final.
For a 20 year-old like Oisin to deal with the expectation levels being lifted so quickly over the course of such a short space of time was very impressive. Last January I’m not so sure many Mayo people would have expected him to contribute the way he did all the way to December. By the end of the season, going into the All-Ireland Final, James Horan would have been looking to him to do a big job for the team against Dublin. And he did it too.
Mentally, that showed he’s able to deal with that sort of pressure and get into the sort of mindset you need to perform at the highest level. It’s that athlete’s mindset where you can perform well on the day and not be affected by any of the outside distractions.
Maybe the fact that the season played out the way it did helped Oisin too. There were fewer championship games than previous years and the attention  and focus on him wasn’t as pronounced as it might have been if there was a longer gap between matches.
As a young player, I think he benefitted from playing game after game, week after week. There was no chance for tension to build up, and that was the case for the likes of Eoghan McLaughlin, Ryan O’Donoghue and Tommy Conroy as well.
You can’t talk about Oisin Mullin, the footballer, without talking about his physical attributes.
He’s a lot like so many of the best players that Mayo have had in recent years, and that James Horan has had tremendous success developing. He’s able to find these incredibly dynamic athletes, lads who are very comfortable on the ball, very comfortable going forward.
Their first instinct when they get the ball is to attack and break the lines.
Oisin is no different in that regard; in terms of his physical attributes he’s right up there with the very best we’ve seen in the last number of years.
I think what he did last season will be of huge benefit to him in his future inter-county career.
Because he has shown he has the ability to go to the likes of Croke Park, Hyde Park and Salthill, and do a job in the full-back line that involves keeping top-class forwards quiet.
For dynamic footballers like Oisin, that’s one of the hardest things to do because their instinct is to get forward and get on the ball. And do their damage in the middle third of the field.
But he is another one of these Mayo defenders, like Chris Barrett, Brendan Harrison, Lee Keegan and Paddy Durcan, who can operate in one-on-one situations in Croke Park.
To be able to do that in his first year in the squad, and the team, is absolutely huge.
Especially when you consider that Oisin is more of a natural half-back-cum-midfielder from his school days and with his club. One of my stand-out memories from his All-Ireland Final performance was him catching two kick-outs over Con O’Callaghan in the first half; that gave us a glimpse of just what he could do further out the field in the future.
Winning these awards is a great achievement for Oisin, his family and his club, Kilmaine.
To be man of the match in the County Junior Final and then go on to have such a terrific championship with Mayo is some going. There’s so much more potential there, we’ve only really seen glimpses of it so far, and I’m really looking forward to seeing Oisin’s career develop in the months ahead. The best of luck to him.

O’Connor showed his star quality

NO more than Oisin Mullin winning ‘Young Footballer of the Year’, Cillian O’Connor’s second All Star was to be expected as well. It was thoroughly deserved.
His level of performances from once Mayo got up and running again after lockdown were just impossible to ignore. It was no coincidence that the one game that Mayo struggled in was the one game that Cillian didn’t play in — the league defeat to Tyrone.
A lot of people had been wondering if he could get back to being healthy and fit enough to reach his highest levels. Well, they got their answer over the course of the championship because there’s no doubt that he was the best inside forward in the country last season.
His scoring rates were phenomenal.
Plus, Dublin are the bench-mark for every team nowadays and the only forward that I saw giving them trouble in last year’s championship was Cillian O’Connor, in the first half of the final. Maybe if he’d got more support in the second half he could have done more damage.
Winning this All Star will mean a lot to him, because even though he’s very strong mentally, I’m sure in the back of his mind he was wondering if he’d ever be able to get back, physically, to where he was a few years ago.
So he can take confidence from last season and use that to drive on again in 2021.
Paddy Durcan is one of the best players in the country. But it’s hard to get an All Star when you’re asked to do a job for the team, in the biggest game of the year, that doesn’t allow you to show your best attributes. And then on top of that, he went off injured against Dublin at half-time. So I can understand why he didn’t win the award, but that doesn’t mean that he’s not one of the best footballers in the game.
He was an All Star last year and I think he will be again in the future.
For what it’s worth, I thought Chrissy Barrett was a little unlucky not to win one too.

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