Mayo boss Stephen Rochford says “the last thing Aidan O’Shea should be labelled is a cheat” in the wake of last Saturday’s controversial penalty award against Fermanagh.
Rochford was responding to comments made by RTÉ pundit Pat Spillane last Sunday when the former Kerry All-Ireland winner accused O’Shea of cheating to win a penalty for Mayo in the All-Ireland SFC Qualifier.
Rochford said Spillane’s use of the word “cheated” in relation to the Mayo star was “unhelpful and unnecessary”.
O’Shea has come in for fierce criticism, particularly on social media, since the penalty incident last weekend.
Ref Joe McQuillan awarded a penalty after he adjudged O’Shea was fouled by Fermanagh defender Che Cullen. Speaking on The Sunday Game last weekend, Pat Spillane said: “I’m sure Aidan O’Shea woke up this morning and regretted his action because he cheated. He cheated. It wasn’t a penalty. It was a clear dive.”
But Mayo boss Rochford has defended his man. “In many ways we’ve drawn a line under it and moved on to focus on Kildare,” said Rochford. “Mayo players have been on the receiving end of calls that have gone the other way over the years. Analysts and pundits are asked for their comments and opinions and are entitled to them. All we would ask for is that they are fair and balanced.
“I would be of the opinion use of language like ‘cheating’ is unhelpful and unnecessary. The word ‘cheat’ is something I would associate with tax defaulters or drug cheats, people who would look to systematically manouvere their way around rules on a regular basis.
“I’ve seen pictures of the incident since the match that would suggest there was maybe some contact with legs or a hand on Aidan’s hip. To be fair, the referee made his decision in the moment.
“I would ask people to look at Aidan O’Shea’s record... the last thing he should be labelled is a ‘cheat’. In my experience over the last six or seven months, I feel he’s certainly been more sinned against than sinning.”
Leitrim exited the Connacht championship game to Roscommon in May but did record a win over Waterford in the qualifiers on June 19. They went under by 11 points to Sligo in the second round qualifiers on July 2.
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