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‘A very delicate matter’: Aidan O’Shea sent to family home for abuse

Aidan O’Shea has admitted receiving hate mail while he was living with his parents and now lives with his fiancée.

O’Shea recently became the GAA appearance record holder for an outfield player, playing the entire match against Dublin in the group stages of this year’s competition.

His 91st Championship appearance came in the penalty shootout defeat to Derry that ended Mayo’s hopes of winning a first All-Ireland title since 1951.

O’Shea admits that while it “won’t be to everyone’s taste”, the criticism it has received over the years has been “insulting”.

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The three-time All-Star spoke to Thomas Niblock and Oisin McConville on the GAA Social Podcast about the abuse he faced during his 15-year inter-county career.

“I know what I’m good at; I know I can add value to the group and I feel like I’ve been doing that for a long time,” O’Shea said.

“When you send things through a mailbox at home, to your family home, it’s scandalous.

“Handwritten or typed letters about personal things about you and what you should do. It’s quite sensitive stuff. These things are very difficult. I know Dad went to the higher powers to see if we could do something about it. It can be quite difficult who it is. It’s difficult to track these things down. Different names, same person probably under different names. It’s very difficult. It got to the point where my mother intercepted it at home. When I moved to my house in the city, my fiancée now intercepted it.

It hadn’t happened in a while, but she would have caught it because you would have known about it from the letter. There would have been some clever comment on the outside of the letter, so they would have hidden it and taken it from me.

So whoever wants to vent to me – and there are certain people who want to vent to me all the time, and that’s fine – if people want to vent to me, that’s fine, they’re using their platform, that’s their prerogative, they have an audience and it reaches people and they feel like they can join in.

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Aidan O’Shea: “My the main focus is always on Mayo’

The 34-year-old explained that due to the heavy criticism he has received online, he has muted mentions of himself and Mayo GAA on social media to avoid reading what people are saying about him, a trick he learnt from his long-time team-mate Cillian O’Connor.

“Cillian was very smart and he worked out very quickly that on social media there’s a mute button that changes the game so I can’t see anything, so I just muted my name, I muted Mayo, I muted loads of stuff that could get to me so I don’t see it. That’s the advice I would give to any young footballer. Yeah, of course there are days when you search for your name and you get tagged in loads of stuff and that’s all good news, but there will be days when it’s not, so I think just mute it. It gives you a clear picture of what you want to see on your own social media channels. That’s the best thing to do.”

The Breaffy club player, who made his debut for Mayo in 2009, has lost six All-Ireland finals but is still hoping to play for Westerners next season.

“Let’s see how it goes. Mayo are out until January but I’d like to play, we’ll see when the time comes,” he admitted.

“I’m 34 years old, but I still feel good, my body is in good condition and I don’t get injured.”

O’Shea knows time is running out for him to secure a long-awaited All-Ireland medal but believes Mayo are capable of challenging for the Sam Maguire award next year and beyond.

“I think it will happen. We have as good a chance as anyone else. There are more teams in and around the area who will think they can win but the Championship is tough and you have to be lucky with injuries and getting to the end of games,” he explained.

“I don’t see why Mayo can’t get to the All-Ireland final in 2025. We have some really good young players coming through.”

“Do I think I’ll be around to win? It’s not something that’s going to keep me awake at night.”

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