Issues of the head and heart for Mayo

Aidan O’Shea has confirmed that he was head-butted by Philly McMahon during the second-half of yesterday’s All-Ireland semi-final.

“But sure that is not for me to enforce the rules of the game, but there was plenty of more things out there that the referee missed too.”

He wasn’t griping. Neither was Mayo co-manager Noel Connelly, with both men remarking on the difficulty facing referees, though Connelly clearly believes O’Shea’s size and brute strength work against him with officials.

“I have said this before,” said Connelly, Mayo’s joint manager, “I don’t like going on about the way that Aido maybe gets tackled at times. Other players maybe, when I say that, (players) smaller in stature and being marked the same way he is, would be getting frees in my mind.”

Off-the-ball incidents are nothing new in football or any other team sport, but this was a game where the volume of such incidents peaked to rare levels with players repeatedly wrestling on the ground away from the main action.

“It’s something we brought to the attention of the linesman on a couple of occasions,” said Connelly. “It wasn’t just Aido. I thought Kevin McLoughlin got a tough time. Look it, this is senior football. We don’t expect to come here and be untouched, don’t get me wrong.

“Some of the jersey pulling to the ground was very obvious at times, I didn’t see as much action taken as I would have liked. We made it aware to the linesman and we were asking him to bring it to this attention, so whether or which it was or not, I can’t tell you.”

More pleasing was Mayo’s resilience in staying alive. “Yeah, we were delighted with that, with the character of the team. Maybe in days gone by a seven-point deficit with 12 minutes to go may have been too much, but the lads showed great determination throughout the field.

“They pressed on and it gave us a bit of momentum again. We were on top at the end and unlucky, maybe, not to get another chance or two before the end. We look at it as half-time now and we have to prepare well again for next Saturday.”

Mayo may well have to make do without defender Donal Vaughan who was replaced after just ten minutes with what turned out to be an AC joint injury. Connelly said “it is very unlikely that he will be available to us next week”.

Vaughan himself was rather more upbeat about his chances, saying he would give himself “every chance” of making it.

Tom Cunniffe, who missed yesterday with a hamstring injury, is also expected to be in line for a place in the defence.

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