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Aidan O’Shea’s single point against Dublin does not tell the complete story of his impact

No outfield player has more senior football championship appearances than O’Shea. Mayo will miss him when he’s gone, they just mightn’t know it yet

Aidan O'Shea marked his momentous achievement of 90 senior football championship appearances with a superb performance in the draw with Dublin. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Mayo will miss Aidan O’Shea when he’s gone. No, really, they will. They just mightn’t know it yet because it’s hard to remember a time when he wasn’t wrapped up in green and red.

Last Sunday at the Hyde, O’Shea reached the milestone of 90 senior football championship appearances, the most accumulated by any outfield player in the history of the game.

He moved ahead of Seán Cavanagh’s 89 and now the only footballer to have played more championship matches than O’Shea is Dublin goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton (125).

O’Shea made his championship debut in the Bronx against New York in May 2009, scoring 1-3.


Last weekend, the 33-year-old marked his momentous achievement with a superb performance in the draw with Dublin.

And while his return of a single point might appear paltry for an inside forward, it doesn’t tell the complete story of his impact.

O’Shea had 24 possessions, scored once and was directly involved in setting up another seven points, either through winning frees or contributing link passes during the build-up play.

He was out in front of Michael Fitzsimons for incoming ball throughout and proved to be a constant outlet for his team-mates. His ball-winning ability, retention of possession, willingness to take on players and decision making caused Dublin huge problems. He also demonstrated quick hands – fisting the ball 20 times, 13 with his right and seven with his left.

The Irish Times looked at O’Shea’s history-making performance:

First half possessions
Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea and Dublin's Ciaran Kilkenny during Sunday's All-Ireland Senior Football Championship match. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

1) 5 mins: Gets out ahead of Fitzsimons to collect a Jack Carney pass out wide, close to the 20-metre line. O’Shea initially loses his footing but jumps back to his feet and immediately drives towards goal. The positive play draws a foul from Fitzsimons. Ryan O’Donoghue points the resulting free.

2) 18: Cormac Costello gets turned over and Matthew Ruane plays a pass to O’Shea between the Dublin 45 and 65m lines. O’Shea moves the ball quickly to Stephen Coen, who ultimately scores his side’s fourth point.

3) 23: O’Shea makes himself available to take a pass from Tommy Conroy and quickly offloads to Carney.

4) 24: In the same passage of play, O’Shea receives a pass from Jordan Flynn and carries the ball forward before sending O’Donoghue through on goal. Just as O’Donoghue is about to shoot, Brian Fenton makes a diving block.

5) 26: Eoghan McLaughlin, from near the endline, passes back out to O’Shea, who is standing wide on the right between the 13m and 20m lines. A wall of Dublin jerseys loom between him and the goal, but O’Shea bursts a hole through the defensive line before John Small, Con O’Callaghan and Seán Bugler combine to unfairly halt his progress. O’Donoghue points the resulting free.

6) 28: Takes a short pass near the 65m line from Sam Callinan. O’Shea then offloads to Ruane.

7) 29: As Dublin work out from the back, O’Shea brilliantly reads a Colm Basquel pass and intercepts the ball ahead of Tom Lahiff.

8) 30: Jack Coyne gives O’Shea a popped pass just outside the 20m line, to the right of goal. He slips but manages to readjust his body and releases a hand pass back to Coyne, who is immediately fouled.

9) 31: He gets out in front of Fitzsimons again to receive a Carney pass, but O’Shea is immediately swallowed up and the ball falls from his grasp. However, he uses his strength to hold off the Dublin players and tap the loose ball to Carney. A frenetic passage of play eventually ends with Niall Scully touching the ball on the ground, providing Mayo with a free wide on the right, just outside the 20m line.

10) 33: O’Shea takes the tricky free, neatly sending it left-footed over the crossbar, 0-6 apiece.

11) 34: Fitzsimons gets turned over and in the counterattack Flynn and O’Shea play a quick one-two before the former drops his shot short.

Second half possessions
Aidan O’Shea after missing a scoring opportunity against Dublin. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

12) 38: O’Shea intercepts a miscued Fenton pass to Ciarán Kilkenny. O’Shea offloads the ball to Coen but ultimately O’Donoghue shoots wide.

13) 42: Mayo intercept a Brian Howard pass and counterattack. Coen passes to O’Shea, who gets separation from Fitzsimons again. He quickly offloads to O’Donoghue, who in turn passes to Ruane and he scores Mayo’s ninth point.

14) 43: Dashes out ahead of Fitzsimons to collect a low pass kicked inside by David McBrien. Immediately pops a pass to Flynn.

15) 44: In the same passage of play, as Mayo try force an opening, Carney feeds O’Shea again. O’Shea injects pace to the attack, throws O’Callaghan a dummy and surges through the D.

16) 44: As the move develops, O’Shea plays a quick one-two with Darren McHale, but the return pass is slightly overhit and O’Shea has to readjust his stride. He sells Fitzsimons a clever sidestep but the Breaffy man fists wide from close range.

17) 48: Ruane steals the ball from Bugler and passes to the unmarked O’Shea, who is fouled by Scully but plays the advantage and offloads to Coyne.

18) 49: In the same move, O’Shea takes a position on the 45m line where he receives a pass from Callinan. O’Shea passes to his right, but Conor Loftus subsequently shoots wide.

19) 56: O’Shea gets out in front again to win an incoming pass. He then turns towards goal, drops the shoulder, and cuts inside Fitzsimons before popping a pass to Conroy and eventually O’Donoghue kicks a lovely point.

20) 58: O’Shea dashes out to collect a tidy kick pass from Cillian O’Connor. He gathers the ball inside the 13m line.

21) 58: In the same passage of play, there is some nice teamwork between O’Shea and O’Connor. O’Shea, standing near the sideline, breaks through a Bugler tackle but finds himself swarmed by three Dublin players. Somehow, he spins out of the blue cage and manages to pop the ball to the awaiting Conroy, who draws Mayo level, 0-14 apiece.

22) 69: O’Shea jogs out the field to take a pass from Bob Tuohy. O’Shea then pops a pass to Loftus and the move ends with a Jack McCaffrey tackle leading to a Mayo 45, which Colm Reape scores.

23) 71: Cluxton’s resulting kick out breaks loose around the middle of the field and in the scramble for possession, O’Shea emerges with the ball and passes to Rory Brickenden.

24) 71: O’Shea, on the run, takes a return pass from O’Donoghue and breaks two tackles as he powers forward before offloading to Coyne, but Dublin eventually turn the ball over.

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