Conor Mortimer during the launch of his book One Sunday: A Day in the Life of the Mayo Football Team (by Conor Mortimer with Jackie Cahill) back in 2014. The Shrule man would not like to see inter-county games played behind closed doors.Photo: SPORTSFILE

Mortimer not in favour of closed doors

Former Mayo footballer Conor Mortimer is not in favour of playing in front of empty stadiums, as he told RTÉ Sport in an interview with Damian Lawlor.

The colourful Shrule man is attributed that famous quote when asked if Mayo would win an All-Ireland: "They might win one with me but they won’t win one without me."

It was one of the many quotes Mortimer came up with during his time with Mayo and he was certainly a crowd pleaser.

"I always enjoyed playing in front of a crowd, good and bad. Bringing joy to our own fans was a feeling that is hard to describe. But I have to say that riling opposing crowds was enjoyable too!" he said.

"There was nothing better than opposing fans abusing you and then sticking one over from near the corner flag.

"If that happened, I would always give them a look and a smile and that would drive them crazy altogether!

"So it will be an eerie feeling if there are no crowds at games this year. Obviously there will be no atmosphere and it will be so difficult for players to enjoy the games if no crowds are allowed.

"In saying that, I don’t think the GAA will open stadiums and have no crowds. We might see smaller numbers, but I think we will see crowds for the championship later in the year."

Mortimer doesn’t buy into the argument that due to the age profile of the current Mayo team – a good few are over the 30 mark – the long break will suit them as will a straight knockout championship.

"The break will have benefits for some and not for others," he observed.

"The love of playing has been taken away from players and we do not know how this will affect players mentally. I feel this will be something for coaches to take into account upon resumption.

"Of course Mayo will be under scrutiny, as always. We were staring relegation in the face pre-Covid, so if the league isn’t resumed it will be an advantage for Mayo.

"But yes, some of the older guys, like Lee Keegan and Colm Boyle, will have been well rested so this will be another help to Mayo when we start back."

He still regards Dublin as the team to beat, despite appointing new manager Dessie Farrell who has big shoes to fill in replacing Jim Gavin.

"Dublin is largely player driven," he said. "They motivate themselves so they won't be far off the top mark anyway. I think after a period of bedding-in, and after the early rounds of championship, they will be comfortable with any new ideas that Dessie has and they will be well fit to implement them.

"Dessie knows his players well from underage, and vice-versa. So they will both be relatively comfortable with each other. I still think Dublin will be the team to beat for another year. Maybe even two more years.

"But you will see some senior guys depart and then the competition will hopefully become more intense. Other teams will get closer to them."

He also feels that not enough attention was paid to the area of mental health during the pandemic, pointing out that training and using the pool work not only improves physical health but clears people’s minds too.

"I think it's vastly unfair that something that benefits mental and physical health is being left on the long finger regarding re-opening," he stated.

"Covid-19 is lethal for people with weaker immune systems and training can improve this in individuals to help fight the virus."