Aidan O’Shea was happy to prove the doubters wrong once again as Mayo ripped up the script to hand Kerry a first championship defeat in Killarney since 1995 on a scoreline of 1-19 to 0-17 this afternoon.
O’Shea was imperious in a Mayo side which also had huge performances from Mattie Ruane and Ryan O’Donoghue as they swat aside the defending All-Ireland champions.
Mayo started like a house on fire and were it not for the exploits of All-Star goalkeeper Shane Ryan, the visitors could have been out of sight as he pulled off three excellent saves in the opening half.
Mayo led by five at the break, 0-12 to 0-7, and while the home side fought back through David Clifford and Paul Geaney, they were never able to build up a head of steam to get on level terms.
Eoghan McLaughlin’s goal put the seal on victory for Kevin McStay’s men as they commenced the new All-Ireland SFC series in the best fashion possible.
Victory came six weeks after the Division 1 League winners were dumped out of the Connacht SFC by Roscommon but O’Shea insists that they were happy to upset the odds once again.
“We didn’t become a bad team overnight and probably a lot of people had written us off for the rest of the season,” O’Shea said before expanding on his new role as a free-taker.
“In fairness, the guys have been pushing me to take the frees on the right-hand side, we don’t have a lefty so I’m happy to do it. It’s been a long time since I was taking frees but happy to take them.”
The Breaffy powerhouse also revealed his lack of awareness around the new championship structure and why it is “funny” that so few counties will depart the championship after the group stages.
“I only realised during the week who would go through because the focus is just to win the games but it’s a funny one,” the three-time All-Star said.
“I think we play 24-odd games and there’s only four teams that will leave the competition. But we can’t control that. It’s our job to just get through the group stages and see where we land and we got off to a good start today.”
There were worries that Kerry had sleepwalked into the All-Ireland series after a routine Munster campaign and that was the case with Jack O’Connor left with some serious headaches as Mayo were the better team from start to finish.