In the aftermath of Conor Mortimer’s decision to quit the Mayo panel, former manager John Maughan was in no doubt that the player still has much to offer the county cause.
Mortimer dropped the bombshell in the aftermath of not being named on the Mayo team to face Sligo in next Sunday’s Connacht final. The player also failed to get selected for the Connacht semi-final win over Leitrim on 24 June.
Speaking to Damien O’Meara on RTÉ’s Sport at 7, Maughan said: “I assume the manager James Horan phoned Conor to tell him he wouldn’t be starting against Sligo, and at that juncture he decided to quit the panel.
"I knew he was disappointed when he had not been selected for the game against Leitrim. He’s a talented player that loves his football, he trains seven days a week and he’s Mayo’s all-time top scorer.
“Therefore, I can understand his frustration at being omitted, but I don’t know whether it’s the correct course of action at this time.”
Maughan feels that Mortimer is good enough to have started against the Yeats county at Hyde Park: “I would have had him on the team for the Connacht final. He was in superb form, scoring 0-09 in an ‘A’ v ‘B’ game before the Leitrim match.
"From speaking to current squad members, they informed me about his outstanding play in recent challenge games.
“Looking ahead to Sunday, Mayo will be without a number of key player like the O’Shea brothers, Pat Hart, Peadar Gardiner and Aidan Campbell, so Mortimer’s presence on the pitch, in my opinion, would be a positive.
"Talk surrounding his leaving is certainly not the type of focus you want going into a big game."
Asked whether or not the whole affair will unsettle the panel, Maughan added: “Well, it’s something the players will be talking about. Conor is a charismatic character and is very well liked. He has transferred to a club in Dublin, but he trains hard and I know the squad will be disappointed that he won’t be there on Sunday.
“People will say that Conor should have bided his time and that the game is now about the whole squad. He has made a huge sacrifice over the past few years commuting up and down from Dublin, so maybe he feels that he’s not been rewarded – insofar that he’s not getting his game.
"It may be selfish, but gaelic footballers want to be out there on the pitch.
“I doubt James Horan will call Conor Mortimer asking him to come back and to that end I’m not sure whether we will see the player at all for the rest of the season. In spite of the high regard that Conor is held in within the camp, there may be voices of disapproval should he rejoin the set-up.”