PENNY FOR HIS THOUGHTS Séamie O’Shea is pictured after the 2017 All-Ireland Final defeat to Dublin. He played in five senior finals (including the 2016 replay) during his Mayo career.
LOSING to Dublin in the 2013 All-Ireland senior final was the hardest pill to swallow for Séamie O’Shea.
The recently retired Mayo midfielder played in All-Ireland finals in 2012, ’13, ’16 and ’17 but it was the ’13 final and the 2014 All-Ireland semi-final replay loss to Kerry that rankle the most.
“I think in ’12 or ’13, we didn’t play as well as we could have, that was probably what was most disappointing about it. We gave Donegal too much of a lead, let them off the hook a little bit.
“I think in ‘13 we were plenty good enough to win that All-Ireland and we didn’t play well enough. Dublin were just more clinical than us. We had loads of chances in the first half, we’d plenty of chances towards the end, we gave away a couple of soft goals.
“2012 was disappointing but I think there was a sense in the group that we were kind of just getting started,” he added. “And it was, certainly internally we felt like yeah, like okay, we lost but we have a young team here and we're just starting off in this journey and that's the way it turned out.
“But 2013, 2014, those years I would have taken very badly.
“Everything in my life would have been geared around Mayo football at that time. Nothing else was important. Everything was put on hold to try and win it, which isn't healthy, but when it doesn't work out then it’s just that massive disappointment and it is just difficult to manage.”
Mayo arguably never played better than in the 2016 and 2017 finals and, for that reason, O’Shea does not find those defeats as hard to take, even though only two points separated the teams across three games.
“We were a better team in ’16 and ‘’17 than we were in ’13 but you can accept ’16 and ’17 a little bit easier because you knew you kind of gave it everything … You played close to as well as you could possibly play and it didn't work out and as annoying and as disappointing as that is, it's easier to accept that whereas in ’13 I felt we just didn't play well enough.”
“To be fair, you just have to tip your cap to Dublin because we were operating at a fairly high level at that stage and they still came up with the answers and found a way to win.”
You wonder does he feel there were any particular areas where Dublin were stronger or was it that Mayo just fell short?
“I find these conversations difficult because, like, you play Dublin over three games in two years and there’s two points over those days.
“People talk about the system. People talk about the way they play but they’ve unbelievable footballers so it’s very hard to to match up with them for 70 minutes.
“We generally did pretty well on Diarmuid Connolly and Ciaran Kilkenny in those finals but you still have to mark Paul Mannion, Con O’Callaghan, (Paul) Flynn, (Bernard) Brogan, whoever else is there.
“They’ve just got a lot of strength in depth and they’ve a huge amount of talent and it’s hard to tie them all down for 70 minutes.”