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Aidan O'Shea calls for counties to join forces as Mayo man prepares to don shoulder pads for American football sojourn

By Paul Keane | Updated: Wednesday, 27 Jan 2016 17:51 | Comments

Aidan O'Shea is taking part in AIB's The Toughest Trade documentary
Aidan O'Shea is taking part in AIB's The Toughest Trade documentary

Mayo full-forward Aidan O'Shea has reiterated his call for amalgamations of weaker counties in the Gaelic football championship, insisting it is not an “outlandish” proposal.

The GAA will vote at next month's Annual Congress on a Central Council backed proposal to introduce a B championship for Division 4 counties once they exit their provincial structure.

The reaction from Division 4 counties hasn't been positive so far, however, while commentators generally have labelled it a conservative model.

O'Shea's radical proposal is at the other end of the spectrum and while the All Star accepts it is a long way from ever coming to fruition, the 25-year-old insisted it is still a credible proposal.

"I did get a bit of stick about it when I mentioned it, but I don't think it's that outlandish really,” said O'Shea.

“Again, it's something that might happen. I see things about B championships and Division 4 teams etc. But I think teams would like to take part in a competition that they have a chance of winning.

"I might be wrong, but if there was an amalgamation of a county or two, they might have a chance of winning, and I think that's better than taking part in a competition you know you're not going to win."

Asked what criticism he received over the franchise suggestion, O'Shea shrugged.

"Well, I'm probably speaking from a county that wouldn't want to amalgamate with someone because of our playing population and the size of our county," he said.

"I'm sure some players would feel I was being a bit disingenuous to other counties when I said what I did, and possibly I was, but I just feel that if you were playing with a team that had a better chance of winning that it would be better for everybody. That would be my way of seeing it."

"Some of the lads might tell you, before going over there, that they love the game but, realistically, they don't love the game. It's about being able to play professionally." - Aidan O'Shea on the lure of Aussie Rules 

O'Shea was speaking at the announcement that he will taking part in AIB's The Toughest Trade documentary.

It involves switching to another sport for a week and, in O'Shea's case, he will team up with an as yet unknown American Football team.

At 6’4” and 100kg, O'Shea is a big Gaelic football player, but admitted he expects to be dwarfed by players he will encounter.

"I'm going to be small out there, to be honest about it," said O'Shea.

"I expect to be anyway. Look at some of the weights and stuff, boys my size, 6’4”, they could have 20kgs on me, which is insane.

"I'm going there with a totally open mind. I don't even know what I'm going to be doing. There'll definitely be something I'll take out of it. But, yeah, these guys are freaks of nature, so we'll see when I get over there."

O'Shea won't miss any Allianz Football League game time as the trip corresponds with the extended break between Rounds 2 and 3.

He hopes to play in the opening rounds of the competition against Cork this weekend and then Dublin before flying out the following day.

It's not the first time O'Shea has mixed with professional players as he was offered trials with an AFL side as a teenager.

"When I went over at the back end of 2009, I was 19," he said.

"It was an option, but to be honest, I've been on the record as saying that from there to the end of 2010 I was not in a good place (personally) and that interest just kind of fizzled out."

Asked if he has any regrets about not making it in Australia, like fellow county man Pearce Hanley has, O'Shea shook his head.

"No, not really. I'm lucky that coming from a county that's competing, we've had our fair share of good days and I've enjoyed the ride over the last seven or eight years," he said.

"Some of the lads might tell you, before going over there, that they love the game but, realistically, they don't love the game. It's about being able to play professionally."

Listen to Dublin v Kerry live on RTÉ Radio 1 from 6.55pm on Saturday and watch highlights from the first round of Allianz Football League action on 'League Sunday' at 7.30pm on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player.

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