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The motives behind that Holmes-Connelly interview and the 'very harsh' criticism of Aidan O'Shea

Conor Mortimer gives his thoughts on the recent issues surrounding the Mayo footballers.

CONOR MORTIMER HAS questioned the motives behind the interview Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly gave last December where they criticised a number of current Mayo players.

Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The pair resigned in controversial circumstances after the 2015 season, when the Mayo panel’s vote of no confidence effectively forced their hand.

Holmes and Connelly gave a hard-hitting version of events during the interview five months ago, calling out several senior players including Aidan O’Shea, his older brother Seamus, and Alan Dillon.

The former joint-managers said they spoke out for the good of Mayo football, but that’s not something Mortimer agrees with.

“I don’t think their reasons were what they said,” stated Mortimer. “For the better of Mayo football, clearly not. Clearly it’s a negative for Mayo.

“It’s more rubbish on the pile that’s there already in relation to all the stuff that has gone on since 1951 in relation to us winning an All-Ireland.

“You need everything working very smoothly for you to go on and win an All-Ireland without needless stuff like that.

“It’s not a personal thing for me but they didn’t really have a leg to stand on when the players came chomping. Them players know what it’s like at the top-level and what it takes in training and preparation to be at the top-level.

“And it’s not the last you’ll hear about it either. Some of them players will probably retire in the next year or two and they’ll have their piece to say as well. That’s the nature of the beast unfortunately.”

Paddy Power Announce GAA Ambassadors 08 Former Mayo forward Conor Mortimer was speaking at a press conference where he was announced as Paddy Power's GAA ambassador. The former All Star will contribute a series of exclusive columns to the Paddy Power Blog throughout the championship in which he’ll candidly discuss the key matches, tactics. Source: lorraineosullivan

Mortimer felt it was inevitable that Holmes and Connelly would give their side of the story, given the circumstances of their departure.

“It was always going to happen. I know Holmesy and Noel. If you’re effectively shafted, you’re going to have an axe to grind at some stage. The timing of it, I don’t really know the reasoning behind it.

“Obviously they waited until the championship was over. I’m not one to say whether what they said was true or false, I don’t actually know. Generally, if players and specifics are mentioned, I don’t think there’s too much untruth behind it.

“Regardless what’s said in the paper, whether it’s true or not, someone is reading it. Your mother, your sister or your brother and they’re ringing you. Then your friends are ringing you. You still feel it, regardless if it’s true or not.

“The players that were mentioned in it would have felt it more than the players that weren’t. I wouldn’t say embarrassing, but it can paint you in a negative light regardless if it’s true or not.

“As a squad, not so much because 90 percent of them would have thought they’re just getting their back now for us getting rid of them.”

Aidan O’Shea Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Current boss Stephen Rochford has left Aidan O’Shea on the bench for Sunday’s Connacht opener against Sligo. For Mortimer, the much-maligned Breaffy man should be played at midfield and left there once he gets his fitness levels up to the required standard.

“The positional sense of Aidan is primarily important for Mayo, to play him in a position and leave him in that position. I’d prefer to see him at midfield, he’s better there, he needs to get his fitness levels to a level of playing at midfield for 70 minutes.

“I’d like to see him midfield but the way the game is gone you need to be seriously fit to play midfield. You need to be full of legs up and down the field, I don’t know has he that just yet. His best games consecutively have been at midfield.

“The positional thing is the big one, Rochford needs to sort that out this year for Aidan. If we’re to win anything he’s going to be a primary player for us, if he doesn’t play well we will struggle to win games, there’s no two ways about it

“That’s not pressure, that’s the reality of being one of the top players. You have to perform to win games and if you don’t we don’t, effectively.”

Bernard Flynn and Darragh Maloney Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Bernard Flynn had a go at O’Shea on the RTE GAA Podcast yesterday, criticising the 26-year-old for posing for selfies after a recent challenge game against Meath while his teammates warmed down.

“Aido does his bit of media stuff and he’s out and about there, it’s very easy for people to have a pop off him,” continued Mortimer.

“At times it’s very harsh because a lot of the criticism will come from within, it’s a lot of Mayo people that would be on his case. I would’ve found that over the years, Ciaran McDonald would’ve found that over the years, that’s the hardest part, it’s your own.

“In other counties, Kerry, Tyrone, not so much Dublin, regardless of what you are or what you say you’re one of their own as such, the criticism media wise you deal with it, it’s part and parcel of what the media are.

“That’s why people read papers, they see headlines, they see criticisms and whatever it is of players. If you put yourself out there you have to be prepared to take the bite when it comes, same with Twitter and social media, you’re on it, you’re ready for the backlash if you do or say something.”

“The best way for him to answer is on the field, lead his team the way he can lead it, he’s done it numerous times over the last five or six years since he broke onto the Mayo team as a young fella. It’s a big year, he needs to step it up another gear.

“From what I hear down below he’s keeping his head down, he’s training away and is ready to play starting this weekend.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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