Mayo star Aidan O’Shea admits that he found recent criticism levelled at him from former Meath player Bernard Flynn “disappointing” — but managed to “completely zone out” as the storm blew up.
In May, Flynn launched an extraordinary attack on O’Shea, having watched him oblige autograph hunters following a challenge match between Meath and Mayo, while also posing for selfies.
Flynn was critical of O’Shea for being outside the team huddle, and said: “I found it extraordinary what took place that night, the way he singled himself out to be different.” The general consensus at the time was that Flynn’s comments were over-the-top and O’Shea, speaking on Newstalk’s Off the Ball last night, revealed how his team-mates “pulled the piss” out of him in training.
The Breaffy powerhouse said: “To be honest with you, a lot of the boys pulled the piss out of me, making a joke out of it or whatever.
“It is what it is, I did my best to switch off from it and I would have stayed off social media for a long period of time.
“I got to a stage where I didn’t even know what games are on TV from a sports point of view, I completely zoned out.
“You can’t control things like that — there’s no point in losing too much sleep over it.” O’Shea added: “I could have a view on it but it’s totally outside my control.
“The press is the press and the media have a job to do. I can’t control a headline or anything like that.” And O’Shea insisted that leading inter-county stars have an obligation to be respectful when dealing with fans.
He said: “When I became an inter-county footballer, I made a conscious decision to make sure I was obedient, especially to kids.
“It’s an important part of what the GAA is about, what we’re all about as a community. Sometimes that gets lost in the overall thing.
“For me, I’m a Breaffy footballer first of all, and a Mayo footballer second of all.
“Whether it’s a club game in the top end of Mayo, or an inter-county football game, if some kid or somebody wants a picture, I’ll do what I asked when I was ten or 11 years of age.
“And I’ll definitely be obliging where I can. From that point of view, it’s disappointing (Flynn’s comments).” O’Shea was also asked about his form in big games, with criticism levelled at him in the past that he hasn’t shown up in All-Ireland finals.
He conceded: “The question has been thrown at me a few times. I find, look, there’s other things going on in the background from my point of view.
“We lost the All-Ireland by a point last year. If we won that game by a point, that question isn’t being asked. That’s part of it again, it’s part of us as a group in Mayo, and it’s something that’s going to be with us until we win an All-Ireland.
“I’ve no problem with the claim or question. I’m just turned 27 and for the guts of my career, we’ve been knocking around the far end of the championship.
“I think my performance levels have helped to contribute to that.
“It will never satisfy everybody — I’d love to have my best game ever in an All-Ireland final, that’s the dream, that’s what everybody’s striving to do.
“If it’s possible, it’s possible and it’ll happen but I have to make sure I do the steps in the lead up to that, and try to be the best I can on those big days.” O’Shea also spoke about the ongoing search for Breaffy club-mate Davin Gavin, who’s missing, presumed drowned, in Canada.
The search continues for Gavin and O’Shea’s been involved in recent fund-raising efforts.
He said: “David would have been a massive mate of mine. It’s been a very tough couple of days in the community.”
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