Conor Mortimer: Rochford has made brave calls, but he was wrong on Aidan O’Shea

The iconic Mayo forward analyses the match-up that’s got the GAA world talking…


Stephen Rochford is a brave manager, who seems happy to make bold moves. More often than not they work out and go unnoticed, but when they don’t quite go as planned the Mayo manager ships a lot of flak.

The Aidan O’Shea experiment at full-back didn’t go to plan with Kieran Donaghy having a lot of joy from picking off low ball.

It was courageous from Rochford, but not a decision I agree with. My biggest issue is that you’re depriving your forward line of one of its most influential players.

Mayo’s forwards were well on top and if we had him up there I don’t believe we’d be seeing a replay this weekend.

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The Kerry backline was a state last Sunday, and O’Shea’s power along with his ball winning ability would’ve been the difference needed to get us over the line.

I would hate to see him played at full back again, not because he can’t do the job, but because he offers so much at the other end. Sticking him at centre back effectively takes one of our best players out of action.

I’d much rather see Mayo focus on their own strengths and not worry about Kerry’s. We’re good enough to beat them!

It takes nerve, but to win these games you’ve got to take chances and Stephen Rochford isn’t afraid to roll the dice.

One man who stood head and shoulders above the rest was Andy Moran who grabbed 1-5 for himself, a ridiculous tally at this stage of the Championship.

Moran’s very similar to Conor McGregor in a way, he goes into a game full of confidence that he’ll deliver because his preparation is impeccable. Everything from his sleep, training and diet is geared towards match time.

There’s a common conception out there that a wet day suits defences, but that isn’t always the case. When you’re playing against clever forwards like Moran and O’Connor they know that defenders will be hesitant to commit for fear of slipping and use it to their advantage.

They’ll adjust how they make the runs and move when they’re in possession. As a forward on a day like that you have it in your head if you turn at speed, all you need to do is hold your footing for a couple of seconds and the space will open up.

Defenders have to be more cautious, Moran knows this and he may not have gotten the space for a few of his scores on a dry day.

A lot of talk this week is about Mayo missing their chance last time out. I couldn’t disagree more, the Westerners rattled Kerry because we’re as good, if not better than them.

A few individual mistakes are the only reasons the Kingdom were allowed back into the contest.

It’s going to be seriously close, however if we can concede less scorable frees I can see Mayo creeping over the line by a very slim margin.

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What do you think?