GAA Football

Mayo star Aidan O'Shea: club season should still get under way before the inter-county scene

AIB will be re-releasing its ‘The Toughest Trade’ series on Virgin Media Television this summer, starting on Monday, June 1 at 9pm. The series featured GAA stars Aidan O’Shea (pictured), Donegal and Glenswilly footballer Michael Murphy, Wexford and Faythe Harriers hurler Lee Chin and Tipperary and Borris-Ileigh hurler Brendan Maher.
Neil Loughran

MAYO star Aidan O’Shea feels the club season should still get under way before the inter-county scene kicks into gear – even if, logistically, it could prove easier to facilitate the return of the county game.

The Gaelic Players’ Association is understood to be more optimistic about inter-county matches going ahead, possibly before a club return. However, this would leave the GAA in a difficult position considering it has already outlined plans for the club scene to lead into county, if/when the games can begin again.

Breaffy midfielder O’Shea understands the challenges that face a possible club return, but feels it has to take precedence if a definitive plan is laid out.

“If there is to be football this year and we have to wait, then I would like to see, if it had to be one or the other, we should be making sure we build back up from the club,” he said.

“From a control perspective and talking to some of the doctors, that's a challenge. There are challenges there from a club perspective. I don't want to speak for every club player, but I’m sure there are people with concerns around that.

“Is the inter-county game a little bit more controlled in terms of numbers? In terms of resource? I would think it is. But if we are building this back up, I think the club needs to be front and centre, but in the right space.”

O’Shea had mentioned the bumper crowds who would love to be going back to watching football after months without, yet it still appears highly unlikely there will be anything more than controlled attendances for the foreseeable future – if any spectators are allowed in at all.

He has watched as the German Bundesliga restarted in recent weeks, the games played out against a backdrop of sideline shouts and eerie echoes. If there is to be an All-Ireland Championship this year, it appears likely that is what it will look and sound like.

A million miles away from what top level footballers and hurlers are used to in the cut and thrust of summer, but a situation O’Shea is ready to accept for the chance to get back playing.

“I watched a bit of the Bundesliga… Jesus, I will never complain about there not being too much sport on the TV ever again.

“It's a bit surreal, let's call it what it is. It’s a bit weird hearing all the chatter from the benches and from the players and when the Premier League comes back we'll be able to understand what they are saying, it will be interesting.

“If it's an absolute, we have to play behind closed doors, I would love to play. It flies in the face of the GAA and what we are about, we're not a professional organisation, the whole idea is that it is a community-based game.

“People go and see their team, they go and support them, they travel and I know it's different times and maybe this is the new normal for a while, but I would be of the opinion that we should be playing in front of supporters.

“Maybe the hands are tied on this one and there is a happy medium between playing behind closed doors and giving people an outlet to watch on TV. People would love to see sport back in some capacity.

“As a player, if we can do that, and it brings a bit of joy back to people in their houses, absolutely I'd be up for it.”

The long break from the middle of March could stand to Mayo too, O’Shea hopes, as it has allowed players more time to work their way back from injuries.

“There’s probably some benefits,” said the 29-year-old.

“Jason Doherty had an ACL injury last year so he’s coming back in a good place, Cillian [O’Connor], Donal Vaughan, Mattie Ruane who had a shoulder operation after the Sigerson, so in that space we are quite lucky.

“The break probably suits some of our players, it probably doesn’t suit some of the younger players who felt like they were in a bit of rhythm and felt like they had put their hand up in some of the spots before those boys came back.

“But there are guys who will benefit from the time to recover and get back at it.”

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