Mortimer gets the timing oh so wrong
By Ray Silke
With all the hullabaloo and drama about Conor Mortimer’s acrimonious departure from the Mayo panel over the past few days, the focus has shifted considerably from any real analysis of the match itself.
Does his exit stage left manoeuvre have any real bearing on the destination of the JJ Nestor Cup? And while most people have been talking about the implications, for Mayo tomorrow, one question has gone unasked as yet — how will Kevin Walsh and Sligo feel after what they have heard and read about over the past few days?
Walsh and his management team would prefer if Mortimer was a togged substitute tomorrow for Mayo and that none of this rigmarole had gone on for the past four days. James Horan and the remaining Mayo players have been given a perfect excuse to circle the wagons and focus on reclaiming the Connacht title.
Walsh would have had a plan with how to deal with Mortimer if he had come on but he cannot plan for how his absence will influence the Mayo players’ psyche. Better to be dealing with the known, than the unknown.
Mayo manager James Horan made his decision not to start Mortimer. That is his job. He is entitled to pick the team he and his selectors believe is the best one to start tomorrow.
Mortimer’s decision to jump ship is petulant and peevish. He would have been much better advised to hang tough and see out the season. Or at least wait until next Monday, when, if he walked away — he would have done so without the spectacle he and Mayo football have endured on the sports pages and websites in the past few days.
In some ways, his decision to fall on his own sword or self-destruct what was left of his inter-county career, can be a bit of cement to solidify the panel.
If enough of the players on the panel back Horan’s judgment (and I am sure they will) they will be well roused to try and support him by the best way possible; beating Sligo tomorrow, claiming Horan’s second Connacht title in two years and grabbing a place in the All-Ireland quarter-final.
A player’s primary objective is to win medals. Experienced Mayo players like Alan Dillon, Andy Moran, Keith Higgins and company might have felt a bit sorry for Conor on Wednesday and asked him to reconsider but the statement issued by his family on Thursday would have changed the mood totally.
They have already moved on. They will not allow a row between the Mortimer clan and management interfere with their chances of winning tomorrow. Conor Mortimer is now a former Mayo footballer and their loyalty will rest with the current crop.
Horan obviously did not think Mortimer deserved a starting place. He has watched him for the past six months and did not rate him good enough to start. That is his opinion and he is well qualified to have it.
And who would know Mortimer better than someone that played with him? In the 2002 All-Ireland quarter-final, when Cork beat Mayo by 0-16 to 1-10, James Horan was taken off, Conor Mortimer came on although not for each other. That is 10 years ago. Horan has pretty fixed views on him at this juncture.
Plus, if that was not enough, James Nallen who is a key figure in the Horan management team, played with Mortimer for many years, including the two All-Ireland finals of 2004 and 2006. If those guys don’t think he is up to the required standard, who can argue? Team selection is a matter of opinion.
Mortimer is entitled to disagree but by taking the nuclear option, he has given his detractors plenty of ammunition to fuel their theories. It’s a sad way to end his career.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reservedHome