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'It doesn't bother me at all' - O'Hora rubbishes backlash to Clifford showdown

The Mayo and Kerry stars clashed during the Division 1 league final.

PÁDRAIG O’HORA has dismissed the backlash that followed his flare-ups with David Clifford in the Division 1 final between Kerry and Mayo.

padraig-ohora Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The Mayo defender has developed into one of the best man-marking specialists since making his championship debut for the county in 2020, but in the league decider, he was outgunned by the Kerry star.

Clifford finished that Croke Park battle with 1-6 as the Kingdom cruised to a 15-point victory to capture the top-tier honours. Footage of O’Hora and Clifford engaging in off-the-ball confrontations emerged on social media in the aftermath of the game, with the Ballina player receiving plenty of criticism for his part in the hostilities.

Interestingly, O’Hora says that despite the struggles involved, he enjoyed the challenge of marking the prodigious Kerry talent. 

“It didn’t go the way I wanted it to go but I enjoyed it,” he begins. “You lose games. 

“I suppose you play to play against the best. You play for the big days, and you hope that you’re fortunate enough to play against the best people in the country. I’m afforded that chance every week, playing against the likes of Cillian [O'Connor], Ryan [O'Donoghue], Tommy [Conroy] – the number of forwards that we have.

“And I enjoyed the experience of the game [against Clifford]. It didn’t go the way I wanted it to go, but that’s life.

“I do enjoy it and things won’t always go your way. You just have to be ready for that.”

Elaborating on how he can draw satisfaction from such a tough experience on the pitch, O’Hora adds that he couldn’t stay downbeat for too long while being surrounded by family.

“I was a bit downhearted for a few minutes but then my little girl jumped onto the pitch. You get a smile and then you forget about it. It’s part of the overall experience and I hope there’s more to come.

“My family and kids were there and there was still a smile and a hug [after]. The kids weren’t bothered. My little daughter wanted to know why she couldn’t get the cup but apart from that, she was happy out. So that can switch your mindset very quickly and you don’t dwell on it too much.”

When pressed about what he said to Clifford during those flashpoints, O’Hora smiles and insists there were no harsh words exchanged and “I wish there was a good story behind it but there’s not.”

The criticism of his conduct among online commenters doesn’t worry him. He’s much more concerned with how his family and teammates view him.

“It doesn’t put me up or down. I’m in touch with different groups about resilience all the time. The criticism that I take will come from within my circle – my friends, my family and the team. If somebody was upset with me about my performance I would have to take it on, likewise if management were upset.

“If it comes externally I just don’t care. Everybody can have their opinion, it doesn’t bother me at all.”

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Mayo’s losing streak continued after the league final, as they lost their Connacht SFC quarter-final to rivals and neighbours Galway. That defeat has left them with a lengthy wait until their next championship outing, and they will discover their qualifier opponents when the draw is conducted on Monday morning. 

“I can only speak personally and I know it seems a bit daft, but I don’t see past tomorrow,” says O’Hora, unbothered by the pause. “I’m brutal for it. I don’t know when the draw is called, I don’t really know all the teams that are involved. Somebody will tell me about that.

“I have training coming up, and I’ll get through that and get through the weekend. Then we’ll set the plan for the week after. It doesn’t put me up or down. It would be nice to be playing week in week out, but it doesn’t put me up or down to have to wait a wee while.”

Padraig O’Hora was speaking at the launch of SuperValu’s #CommunityIncludesEveryone campaign. Now in their thirteenth year of supporting the GAA All-Ireland Senior Football Championship, SuperValu is calling on each and every member of GAA communities to do what they can to make their community more diverse and inclusive.

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