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'In ‘16, He Was A Really Important Player. He Was Out Of Favour Since'

'In ‘16, He Was A Really Important Player. He Was Out Of Favour Since'

Seamus O'Shea is "delighted" to see his brother Conor back involved with Mayo after a "tough couple of seasons".

Conor O'Shea made appearances off the bench in the Connacht final win against Galway and the All-Ireland semi-final victory over Dublin.

"Conor’s been there since 2012 I think, so he’s been there a long time," said AIB ambassador Seamus O'Shea.

"In certain seasons, he’s been a really important player for us. In ‘16, he was a really important player for us. He was one of the first subs in.

"He was out of favour a little bit since. He made a couple of really important plays the last day [against Dublin]. He was involved in the Evan Comerford one which ended up in a free that led to Robbie [Hennelly's] point.

"He’s put in a huge shift over the last few years to get back involved and yeah, as his brother, just thrilled for him to contribute like he did. Hopefully we’ll see him again in another couple of weeks with another good performance."

seamus o'shea conor o'shea matty ruane mayo

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The All-Ireland Football Final – IT’S ON! AIB ambassador, Séamus O’Shea (Breaffy GAA and former Mayo footballer), pictured ahead of the GAA All-Ireland Senior Football Championship final as long-time rivals Mayo and Tyrone meet in a mouth-watering final to round off #TheToughest knockout season of summer football. Picture credit: Sportsfile

Mayo's best player this season has been the O'Shea brothers' Breaffy clubmate Matty Ruane. Seamus O'Shea and Ruane had battled it out for a spot in the Mayo midfield up until Seamus's retirement from inter-county football earlier this year.

Ruane's rise to prominence - he is one of the favourites to be named Footballer of the Year - has been a slow one. He first got involved with the Mayo senior panel in the middle of the last decade but did not make his championship debut until 2019.

Seamus O'Shea on Matty Ruane's Mayo rise

"Of all the positions, it’s probably difficult to establish yourself as a midfielder early on," said O'Shea.

"Matty is 23, 24. It just takes time because physically it’s difficult to match up with some of the guys you’re going against.

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"I’m sure Matty was impatient at times, trying to get in but sometimes you just have to bide your time and you can see it in him physically over the last few years that he has come on a huge amount.

"That’s a credit to him, it’s coming through in his performances on the pitch but I think he’s just become a much more consistent player as well. Early on, he’d have mixed the good with the bad. Two or three good things and then two or three bad things.

"But he’s eliminated a lot of that from his game now and he’s just far more consistent with his game. The other thing is, he puts huge pressure on the opposition midfielders because it’s a nightmare trying to mark a fella like that who’s constantly going forward and constantly trying to put you on the back foot. You spend more of your energy trying to mark him than trying to get involved in the game yourself.

"I’m delighted to see the improvements he’s made this past year and he’s one of the form midfielders in the country, there’s no question about that."

seamus o'shea conor o'shea matty ruane mayo

14 August 2021; Matthew Ruane of Mayo and manager James Horan after their side's victory over Dublin in their All-Ireland Senior Football Championship semi-final match at Croke Park. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
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O'Shea believes that Ruane playing well in the final against Tyrone will be key to a Mayo win.

"I watched the Tyrone-Kerry game again, and I’ve been impressed by [Brian Kennedy and Conn Kilpatrick] in midfield," he said.

"They’re solid, and they get the job done. Morgan hit them with a few good kick-outs when they isolated them up the wings.

"Their match-ups, whether it’s with Matty and (Conor) Loftus, or Matty and Diarmuid (O'Connor), is a bit different in that David Moran and Jack Barry were a little defensive the last day, allowing them to sit back a little bit.

"The Mayo lads won’t do that so it’ll be interesting to see how that match-up works out. But yeah I imagine they’ll have a plan for Matty because he’s been such an important player for us."

See Also: Emma Duggan Leaves No Doubt That She Meant Stunning All-Ireland Final Goal

seamus o'shea conor o'shea matty ruane mayo

PJ Browne
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