Seamus O'Shea: Transition from Mayo veterans will be smooth

Veteran defender Keith Higgins announced his inter-county retirement on Saturday, following Chris Barrett, David Clarke, O'Shea, Tom Parsons and Donie Vaughan
Seamus O'Shea: Transition from Mayo veterans will be smooth

Seamus O'Shea of Mayo in action during the 2017 Championship. Picture: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Seamus O'Shea, one of six Mayo footballers to retire since the 2020 season ended, believes a "natural transition" has already been taking place for the past two seasons.

Veteran defender Keith Higgins announced his inter-county retirement on Saturday, following Chris Barrett, David Clarke, O'Shea, Tom Parsons and Donie Vaughan in exiting James Horan's panel since last month's All-Ireland final defeat.

Higgins made his Championship debut back in 2005 and between the six players to leave, they have amassed 324 Championship appearances between them and seven All-Star awards.

Clarke and Barrett are also current All-Star nominees though none of the other four retirees played in last month's loss to Dublin with O'Shea and Vaughan not part of the matchday 26.

O'Shea told Midwest Radio's Sunday Sport programme that, in reality, a period of transition to a new-look team is already well underway with Mayo securing the three nominations for the 2020 Young Footballer of the Year award.

"It'll be a natural transition and I think it's happened over the last couple of years," said O'Shea of the squad's evolution. "We won a National League title (in 2019) with a good few of us not playing a huge part in it.

"We got to an All-Ireland final, we won a Connacht championship last year, so there's a lot to be positive about. While people are obviously going to be disappointed to see certain fellas retire and move on, there's a new generation coming along that hopefully Mayo supporters will have an equal affinity with and will support for many years to come."

O'Shea said his own decision to step away from Horan's squad was a straightforward one in the end.

"Particularly over the last two or three seasons I've struggled badly with injuries," the powerful Breaffy midfielder said.

"I've had a number of surgeries, one or two a year for the last two or three years which hasn't helped.

"There was a time when that happened that I was able to recover quite quickly and make my way back into the team.

But as you get older it becomes more and more difficult. I'm 34 in March, to be playing around the middle of the field at that level at this age is pretty difficult to do.

"When you're not able to train consistently over a long period of time it becomes increasingly difficult.

"It was a straightforward enough decision, I just don't feel like my body is up to it anymore which is difficult to admit because it would be great to do it."

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