Mayo and Kerry must do it all over again next week after they played out a thrilling draw on Sunday in Croke Park.
The All-Ireland SFC semi-final finished with the teams all square and there was no shortage of talking points to take away from the game.
One of those talking points came in the shape of Stephen Rochford’s decision to deploy Aidan O’Shea full-back, tasked with man-marking Kerry’s aerial threat at full-forward, Kieran Donaghy.
O’Shea, usually an attacking talisman for the Connacht side when not fetching his ball aorund the middle of the park, was given the job of minimising the influence of Donaghy. Rochford and his Mayo management team had identified the Austin Stacks big man as the Kingdom’s primary threat and went about putting a halt to Star’s danger by having onme of their own key forwards track his movements around Croker for the duration of the afternoon.
The Mayo boss was neither critical nor full of praise in his assessment of the Breaffy club player in his new role in the immediate aftermath of the game. While Donaghy notched just a point for himself, he was not made appear anonymous by O’Shea, gathering quite a share of possession and creating chances for his teammates.
Another cause for debate rising from the placing of O’Shea at full-back was the loss of him as a potent attacker.
So, was the absence of the 27-year-old’s expertise going forward for Mayo worth the productivity of his efforts to shackle Donaghy? When that question was posed to Rochford, he responded:
“Possibly, but you know, we’re not a one-man team.
“No more than Lee Keegan missing the Roscommon game. We don’t want to be seen as a one-man team and I don’t believe we are a one-man team.”
Ahead of the replay, Rochford will need to assess whether depriving his attack of O’Shea’s prowess in order to pin Kerry’s focal point down is required to get over the line and into the All-Ireland final.
“Aidan was effective in some aspects but I think we’ll take closer attention to see and be definitive on that.
“Was it the right decision? Look, we’re halfway through. You win the games or loser the game and people decide was it right or wrong. We’ll see what happens next week,” said the Mayo manager.
While Rochford insists that his side do not rely on too much on O’Shea, Mayo fans will be hoping that he can do enough to drag them into a fixture with Dublin or Tyrone on the third Sunday of September.
Make sure to check out the latest episode of The 16th Man, where we hear from Stephen Rochford and Éamonn Fitzmaurice after Kerry’s draw with Mayo, look ahead to Dublin vs Tyrone, and hear from Eddie Brennan while discussing the future of the U21 Hurling Championship.