Tangled up in Blue

Aidan O’Shea is looking forward to getting to grips with the neighbours

It’s been a hectic year for Aidan O’Shea that has seen him line out in the colours of his club Breaffy, his college DIT, his county Mayo, and just last weekend his country, in the first Ireland international rules test against Australia. This Sunday his focus is very much on one thing, winning his first and his club’s first senior county championship. The towering midfielder wasn’t long back from his international rules duty when he spoke to the Mayo Advertiser ahead of Sunday’s game and kicking things off he said the whole international rules adventure was an enjoyable experience. “It went our way, it was something different, something that I wanted to get ticked off. We were (better than Australia ) in the first two quarters, but they seemed to come together a bit after half time and they were more competitive. But it was an enjoyable game.”

The conversation quickly turned to this Sunday and the big one against Castlebar Mitchels, and O’Shea has his sights firmly set on the task at hand. “Yeah, it’s first county final for myself and the club and obviously it’s against our local rivals as well. It’s going to be a big occasion for everyone involved.”

Finally making the break

This is uncharted territory for Breaffy, having never made it past the last eight stage before this year, they had a number of near misses that Aiden remembers. “I suppose, I’ve been playing with Breaffy for a long time and we finally made the breakthrough that we’ve threatened over the last couple of years. We’d a few close quarter finals against Crossmolina, Castlebar and Ballina so it’s been good to get there now and we’re looking to put in another good performance. We struggled and nearly got over the line against Ballina when we lost by a point or two, it was the same against Castlebar it didn’t go our way. But this year we came out against Ballaghaderreen after the All Ireland and played well that day, then into Charlestown and it flowed on well again that day.”

All eyes will be on the midfield battle on Sunday, where Aidan and his brother Seamie will be expected to be star attractions after playing so well together all summer for Mayo. The younger of the duo is looking forward to being able to do so again on Sunday and provide a platform for the team to do their stuff. “Yeah, we’ve played fairly well since (the All Ireland ) in the club championship games. I think Seamie was probably a bit more dominant against Ballaghaderreen and maybe I was a bit more to the fore against Charlestown, we’ve played well all year together and we’ve followed it on with the club, which is very important to us, and we’re just looking to give the other boys a platform to play from for Breaffy. We’ll just be looking to keep that up and it’ll be probably even more important to do so again against Mitchels on Sunday.”

Quality all over the field

Breaffy have good mix of youth and experience in their ranks and there have been a number of stand-out performers in blue this year that have delivered big time for the club this year, according to Aidan. “I think Tommy O’Reilly is probably one of the best u21 players in the county and he’s shown that this year, he’s flying. While David Gavin has come on strong again this year and then obviously you’ve the lads who were playing with the Mayo minors this year who’ve been a breath of fresh air to have playing. Michael Hall and Liam Irwin have shown they are the type of players who can go on and play for Mayo in the future if they want to. Those boys stepped up and you have your elder statesmen as well too, who have continued to play well in every game this year.”

As for their opponents on Sunday, Aidan knows it’s going to be big challenge for Breaffy to overcome. “They’ve been the form team all year, we obviously played them in them in the group stages and got a fair trimming from them. It’s going to be no mean task, we’re under no illusions of where we need to be to beat them. County finals tend to be tight games and that’s what I’ll expect next Sunday. They’ve a good panel and are strong all over the field, they’ve a good six backs and up front then they’ve chopped and changed a bit but they’ve got a lot of good scores there.”

Back in blue

With winter coming in it’s been all go for O’Shea since the turn of the year on the football front, but he’s not feeling any tiredness from the season so far. “No, no, not at all. It’s great to be involved in different things like those, with DIT at the start of the year was the focus, then Mayo and now it’s fully focused on the club properly, which you don’t really get to do when you’re with Mayo, and which you want to be able to do.” And being able to get right back on the horse after All Ireland final defeat in club championship is something he has enjoyed. “It nearly seems that the All Ireland was a lifetime ago, but it was only a few weeks ago really, but it’s been good to able to transfer your thoughts towards the club after it and when your winning it’s good for the moral.”

His final thoughts on Sunday’s game are that he’s expecting be going home with a county medal come the final whistle. “I think we played well all year, bar that game against Castlebar earlier in the championship, we’ve been impressive so there’s no reason why not. I think it’ll be a close game, but we’ll come out on the right side of it.”

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