Search icon


19th Aug 2016

#TheToughest Choice: Who is Mayo’s most important player?



If you could only pick just one…

Mayo will contest their sixth All-Ireland semi-final in a row this weekend and although they have yet to land the big prize, such consistency is a testament to how well the current crop of players have performed since the start of the James Horan era in 2011.

They’ll have nothing easy against Tipperary at Croke Park on Sunday, but the green and red are strong favourites to reach their first final since 2013.

One of the reasons Stephen Rochford’s men are fancied to come through is their experience of the big occasion and the presence of a number of blue-chip performers who have represented their county with distinction over the years.

In a team where the collective is so strong, it’s hard to single any man out, but if you had to select just one as Mayo’s most important player, who would it be?

Cast your vote on the poll a little further down the page.

Colm Boyle


The current Mayo team are blessed to have a number of on-field leaders in their ranks, but, to the naked eye at least, nobody stands out as much as the tigerish wing-back from Davitts.

Boyle’s contributions to games are often spectacular – the big hits, the flying blocks, the long-range scores – and never fail to get the crowd going, but there’s far more to his game than that.

Excellent off both feet, donkey strong and a fantastic reader of the game, the two-time All-Star has consistently been one of the best defenders in the game in the last five years.

And when the going gets tough, there’s nobody else you’d want beside you in the trenches.

Lee Keegan


He’s conceded one point throughout this entire championship campaign and that’s having man-marked people like Sean Cavanagh and Shane Walsh.

He’s showed a whole new side to his play this season, following men into the corner if he has to and he’s snuffing out threats for fun. He thrives off it.

Rochford can entrust him to cancel out an opponent but Keegan is so restless and so damn energetic that he’s back up the other end piercing thorns in the rearguard as if it was only second nature to him.

When critics were suggesting he’s had a quiet championship, he was massive – absolutely massive – against Tyrone and his scores were things of real beauty – and true leadership.

Aidan O’Shea


Every year it seems his begrudgers are just desperate to fire question marks over the Breaffy giant’s effect and, every single year, he comes up with the answers.

Aidan O’Shea has grown into the 2016 campaign whereby he’s proven to be dangerous in any area of the field. He’s fetching ball, he’s throwing men off him and he’s always carrying his county towards the posts.

The credit he’s not getting is for his tireless and selfless work rate where he is sacrificing scores and his energy for the team. But wherever he’s deployed, even it’s on the 45′ to see out a game, Aidan O’Shea is a beast.


Like his older brother, the wing-forward’s transition from a rising star to one of the most important players in the Mayo ranks has been rapid.

Wasn’t 100% fit against Tyrone, but before that this season he demonstrated why he is arguably the best young player in the country.

Possesses an engine that would put the great Cafu to shame, is an excellent link between defence and attack, regularly ghosts past defenders with deceptive pace and can usually be counted upon to put up a decent tally in every game.

Already a real thoroughbred in the Mayo attack, the frightening thing for opposition defenders is he’s probably only going to get better.

Cillian O’Connor


Appointed captain of Mayo at 23 (he’s now 24) and with two All-Ireland Finals, an All-Star and two Young Footballer of the Year awards behind him, the Ballintubber man has packed a career’s worth of football into six seasons.

It could be argued that none of the top teams are as dependent on one forward as Mayo are on O’Connor, but it is a burden he has borne with distinction in the last few years.

As elaborated upon here, O’Connor regularly posts big tallies in big games, is the most reliable free-taker around, is ice-cool when presented with goal chances and has been a leader ever since he became a regular in the starting XV.

Never let it be said that Mayo don’t have a marquee forward; this guy is as good as what’s around.



How could you talk about Mayo’s most important player without talking about Andy bloody Moran? The man has transformed the team since coming back into the full forward line.

Or Keith Higgins, one of the best defenders of a generation? Or Seamus O’Shea who has been ploughing along like an unsung hero for years now?

Mayo have a team of talents and they all deserve credit.

Massive Mayo v Tipperary preview plus a big interview with Eamon McGee in the latest GAA Hour.Subscribe here on iTunes

WATCH: Liverpool BOTTLED the title race 🤬 | Who will win the Premier League?