Game’s evolution left Conor behind

Breaking news: Mortimer leaves the Mayo panel five days before the Connacht final.

Cue panicked hordes of red and green supporters and snapshots of Kevin Walsh rubbing his hands together.

Well, unfortunately for a man who gave his county so much, that’s not really the case.

Mayo was divided after Ciaran McDonald’s fall from the stage under John O’Mahony but few will lament Mortimer’s absence.

Yes, he is the record scorer in the county, proudly taking Joe Corcoran’s long-standing accolade this year, and at 30, having played 99 league and championship games for the county, he is capable of making it even tougher on the chasing pack to catch him.

But changes in the game negated his strengths. Forwards need to have pace, strength, a thirst for work and an ability to win their own ball now.

Players must always think of the next ball, the next game and above all say or do nothing that draws attention.

Conor’s crime was that he was only blessed with a killer left foot and supreme confidence in his abilities.

Under James Horan’s revolution of Mayo football from style to substance he wasalways going to be a casualty.

And it was a death of athousand cuts.

He gave it everything but no amount of training would turn him into a Colm O’Neill or Patrick McBrearty. A starting position would never return and he knew it.

That’s not to confuse this with a tantrum though. Yes he famously threw away the jersey before, but the reason? He was being taken off.

This final act was of a player desperate to play a game that no longer loved him.

He could have sat on the bench, made a brief cameo and probably picked upanother Connacht medal this Sunday.

But that wouldn’t be him. The big stage player deserved a big stage exit.

You don’t have to go far to get an insight into his mind. He once gave a famousinterview to the Mayo News when, upon being told most Mayo supporters didn’t think the county would win anything with him in the side, he responded: “Well they may not win anything with me but they won’t win anything without me.”

Unfortunately yesterday was the last final act of a storied inter-county career and one he will have to live with.

He will never regret it though. The evolution of the game dictates that you can no longer indulge a Conor Mortimer.

And that’s the unfortunate thing the rest of us will have to live with.

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