By Jackie Cahill
Former Meath All-Ireland winner Bernard Flynn has hit out at current Mayo star Aidan O’Shea, suggesting that he’s more interested in “photographs and selfies” than the team.
Flynn recounted being present at a recent challenge game between Meath and Mayo, and watched as O’Shea obliged autograph hunters at the end of the game, while the rest of his teammates were in a huddle nearby.
Speaking on the latest RTE GAA podcast, Flynn revealed: “This is something small, but I thought it was huge.
“I wasn’t going to (share) but I’m going to do it. Meath played Mayo in a challenge the week before last.
“At the very end of the match, the Mayo players got around in the circle, and O’Shea was on the team that finished the game.
“There were 15-20 kids around, he signed autographs, with the team in a circle about ten yards away.
“No-one asked him to leave what he was doing, every other player was in a huddle, he was left outside and allowed to do as he wanted.
“That happened, he decided to come into the ring when all the photographs were finished, which I found absolutely incredible.
“They did a warm-down and the same thing happened. The whole team did the warm-down and ten yards away, he proceeded to have photographs and selfies and what not.
“He was allowed to do his own thing. I stood back in amazement and a certain individual, who’s close to the Meath team, said: 'that’s exactly why Aidan O’Shea plays the way he does.'
“It was incredible to see what happened, right in front of me. I just think there’s too much made of him and maybe he’s not just one of the players, the way he should be.
“I found it extraordinary what took place that night, the way he singled himself out to be different.”
Former Mayo player John Casey also discussed O’Shea, who’s named on the bench for Sunday’s Connacht championship quarter-final against Sligo, and launched a strong defence of the Breaffy man.
While making the point that it’s difficult to ignore please from young children for autographs and photographs, Casey added: “If there was a team huddle, for crucial plans for the following week, he probably should have been in listening.
“But it’s a catch 22, you’re damned if you and you’re damned if you don’t.”
Casey recalled how O’Shea’s blistering finale in the final League match with Donegal helped to turn the tide in Mayo’s favour, after Murphy had run the show prior to O’Shea’s introduction.
Casey said: “You either love him or loathe him (O’Shea), even opinion within the county is divided on him.
“Everybody’s entitled to their own opinion but all I can say to you is that in the last game in the National League this year against Donegal, it was get off the pot or Mayo were going to be relegated.
“We were in deep trouble against a rampant Donegal team and Michael Murphy.
“Some people would say it’s only National League but Aidan O’Shea came on for the last 20-something minutes and turned the tide.
“Michael Murphy’s influence diminished when he came on the field, it was inspiring.
“There was 15 or 17,000 people at that game, it was like a championship game in Castlebar and everyone was saying, my God, Aidan O’Shea is after proving his worth to the Mayo cause.
“Little did we know Roscommon were doing us a favour against Cavan and that would have saved us from relegation anyway but the players didn’t know that. “And Aidan O’Shea came on and got man of the match in something like 25 minutes on the field. That is his value.”
Flynn countered: “The frustration is that he hasn’t done what he’s supposed to do for the calibre of player he is. That’s a problem.
“When you’re a big name, marquee player, on the front of newspapers, doing interviews and endorsements, he hasn’t done what he should be doing and is capable of doing.
“If he had played anywhere to form over the two games against Dublin (last year), Mayo would have been (All-Ireland) champions.
“As regards Michael Murphy and O’Shea at the moment, it’s an unfair question to either player. Murphy’s on a different planet compared to what O’Shea has done for his county, in big games when the moment is needed most.”