PAUL EARLEY BELIEVES that Conor Mortimer will soon regret his decision to abandon the Mayo setup days before they line out in the Connacht final.
Mortimer removed himself from the panel after James Horan named a largely unchanged side from that steam-rolled Leitrim in the semi-final.
Speaking on TV3′s The GAA Show last night, Earley was critical of the talismanic forward’s reaction.
“I think maybe when Conor reflects on this,” Earley said, “maybe he will look back in a few weeks time or a few months time and say that this may have been an error. You just don’t do that in the week of a big game.
“I can understand his position from a certain point of view. Obviously he, as a player, was probably number one or number two on the team sheet for a number of years but time has moved on now and I suppose the game has developed into a twenty three or twenty four man game.
“He’s not now on the first fifteen or he’s on the fringes of the panel and maybe he hasn’t accepted some of the decisions that the management has made and he’s looking at the full forward line and saying maybe ‘I’m as good if not better than the players that are there’ but when you are part of a panel in the modern game you’ve got to sign up and support the choices that the management make.”
Earley added that he felt Mortimer could still have added plenty to Mayo’s latest shot at All Ireland glory. Not only from the bench in the Connacht final, but later on in the Championship should injury befall any of the men above him in the pecking order.
Despite such a high profile player’s absence dominating the build-up, Earley still backed Mayo to retain the provincial title.
“I don’t think it will have any impact o the players on Sunday,” but he lamented that ‘issues’ such as this one were emerging at such a pivotal point in the season.
“If you look at the successful teams over the years this rarely happens at this stage of the championship. If there are issues they’re generally dealt with early in the season and put to bed.
“Something like this happening this late in the championship does create a sense of unease among the panel and among the general public as well – everybody is asking the players now ‘what’s the story?; what’s happening?; and it takes their focus. As well, for a period, it takes the management’s focus away.”
Paul Earley will be co-commentator during TV3′s live coverage of the Connacht final tomorrow at 1.30.