Oisín’s departure a bad but inevitable blow

The news that broke this morning about the likely impending departure for Australia and the AFL of Oisín Mullin is a bad blow for the county’s football team. An All-Star and Young Footballer of the Year in his debut season at inter-county level in 2020, the Kilmaine player quickly established himself as one of our most important performers.

The news that Oisín is soon set to be offered a rookie contract by AFL club Geelong was broken by The 42 this morning (here). Since then, the story has been all over the media today, including on RTÉ, Irish Independent, Irish Mirror, Irish Examiner.

The possibility that Oisín would one day up sticks and head for Australia has been a worry for Mayo fans for as long as he’s been playing for the county. Stories about the Aussies tracking him were widespread early in 2020, when Oisín was putting in a series of impressive performances for us in the full back line, and there was a sense of inevitability then that one day these stories would be confirmed.

When Rob and I sat down with James Horan for the podcast back in February 2020, I put that very question about Oisín’s future to the Mayo manager. His rather Delphic response then was that the Kilmaine starlet was fully committed to Mayo for the year, though that, of course, only served to heighten worries about the follwowing year.

In the event, of course, Covid intervened, upturning all manner of plans all over the globe. From our selfish perspective, it meant Oisín was still with us for the 2021 season but today’s news stories would appear to confirm that he won’t be around for 2022. In truth, he could well have played his final match in the Green and Red.

From Oisín’s perspective, the chance to play a professional sport is clearly too good an opportunity to pass up. Few can, in truth, quibble with his apparent decision to go – who wouldn’t in his position? All any right-thinking Mayo supporter can do is thank him for the significant contribution he made to the county in his time here and wish him all the best for the future.

Those claiming that something, anything, should have been done – including by Mayo GAA – to keep the player here are, I think, well wide of the mark. Despite the steady creeping professionalism, Gaelic football is still an amateur sport and the professional terms on offer to Oisín in the AFL simply aren’t a factor in our game. No amount of ‘something should have been done’ talk can gainsay that painfully obvious truth.

And it’s not as if we’re uniquely at risk of losing players to Australia either. Promising performers from several counties have headed to Oz down the years, with varying degrees of success, and Oisín is just the latest of these. He is, it’s true, one of the more high profile departures – not since Kerry’s Tommy Walsh, also a winner of the Young Footballer of the Year award, has a player of Oisín’s stature swapped inter-county Gaelic football for the lure of professional terms in the AFL.

Oisín’s departure will undoubtedly weaken us next year. Since the All-Ireland loss to Tyrone, I’ve felt that 2022 was going to be a difficult one for us no matter what – reminded as we will be at every turn that we blew such a glorious opportunity to win Sam – and, shorn of Oisín’s talents, I can’t see that it’s going to be any less difficult.

But that’s not on Oisín. He’s given us two great years and now it would appear that an exciting life opportunity is opening up for him. The best of luck to him as he prepares to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

52 thoughts on “Oisín’s departure a bad but inevitable blow

  1. Well said. Wish him a massive career that we will watch and support avidly. Hopefully, he will have an intermediate medal in his luggage!

  2. Yes WJ agree with everything you say.. Oisín is confident, mentally strong and offers leadership. Qualities we will sorely miss.
    Westport v Belmullet now in Ballina, life goes on.

  3. It’s gutting news but how can you begrudge anyone the opportunity. Very best of luck to Oisín – I fully agree with your comments WJ that there was nothing that could be done to keep Oisin here. Maybe I’m well wide of the mark but whilst we’ve lost an amazing (natural) half back that’s the best line to have lost someone given our strength there. I’m not as pessimistic about 2022 and don’t see why we automatically slide back given Oisín’s obvious injury in final, absence from semi, plus Cillian’s championship long injury

  4. A big loss if it pans out.

    I had hoped, obviously in vain, Oisin getting a taste of the buzz of big days in Croke Park playing for Mayo, that he would be tempted to stay with Mayo.  As the farmers say once the sheep get a taste of the good aftergrass, it is hard to get them out of that field. But in this case, there is even better aftergrass to be had “Down Under”

    People on the blog here say Mayo GAA should have done more to keep the lad,  like Kerry did for Clifford. This is incorrect on two accounts: If the lad wants to get to hell out of Ireland for a few years and experience another country, that is his choice. Many of us did just that at his age. Football is the avenue for him to do it. Many Irish youngsters want to experience Australia. Oisin is lucky to have a “job” already lined up.

    Several contributors have mentioned how Kerry managed to hold onto David Clifford.  True it was all the talk at the time.
    The following extract is from the horse’s mouth and explains how Kerry “pulled it off”….they didnt in fact, have to do anything.

    Question to David Clifford:
    “were you ever tempted to go and play in the AFL?
    David Clifford paraphrased reply:
    “at the time there was a lot of talk about it… . I was never approached… it made the decision a bit easier……don’t know a whole pile about the sport and as I said, not being approached made it a fairly easy decision”

    So you can’t believe half all you hear/read.

    See the attached link, at 6:25 or so.

  5. All the best Oisin, so enjoyed the time you spent with Mayo and the great contribution to the team. Good luck for the future.

  6. Good luck to him it’s sickening for Mayo though.Huge loss its the right call for him Tommy Walsh came back with proper wealth and Pierce Hanley is even better off than that.I really hope he makes it

  7. The last time I saw someone as exciting was in a qualifier game v Cavan – Pearse Hanley – stood out like a sore thumb at 19 at Centre forward – imagine the difference he could have made 2012 to 17 – And now we lose another generational talent – I completely disagree with all who say we have plenty of half backs because Mullin could take any jersey from 1-15 and make the same impact! And that’s nearly impossible to replace. Very best of luck to him

  8. If he stayed we’d just waste his talent playing in the full back line anyhow similar to Higgins.

    Next move will probably be to put Keegan or Durcan in the Full Back line again.

  9. Best of luck to Oisin Mullin and agree it is a big loss to Mayo.
    What are the chances of playing Aiden O’Shea at fullback in 2022?

  10. @1989 I’m not sure it was the right move for Tommy Walsh. He never really made it as an AFL player. Was on rookie wages of about $80k per annum which is not much at all in Australia, got some v serious injuries and I don’t think he even played a game for his first club St Kilda and only 5 games for sydney. Returned at 26 a pale shadow of his former self in Gaelic football.

  11. He becomes the second Mayo man to join Geelong after the great Colm Mac, who joined in the early days of Irish players moving to Aussie Rules in the late 80s.

    Melbourne area is the heart of AFL country. Best area to join a club. NSW and Queensland Rugby is main game.

    Geelong is my new favourite team.
    Best of luck to him.

  12. Sorry to see Oisín depart but was always expecting it. I wish him well in any event. It can’t be all bad as young players see that the old adage that “there’s nothing out of football” is not necessarily true.

  13. Very sorry to see Oisin go and a huge loss to Mayo, but I wish him all the best. I don’t know if we could have done more to keep him, but it has always struck me as odd that, despite all the top class footballers and athletes produced by Dublin, over the last decade or so, hardly any have been poached by Aussie Rules, which begs the question-are they “being looked after” and, if so, why can’t we do it here in Mayo.

  14. A great player and a huge loss to Mayo. Really am sorry to see him go. People using this as a stick to beat Mayo management and Co Board should really cop themselves on. Oisin would be gone years ago if it was not for covid. He is going because he wants to go and it is a huge opportunity for him. He is not going because he ended up in the full back line or because Mayo played poorly v Tyrone. As for all that should have been done to keep him here such as financial perks, endorsements etc Well poor old Aido got loads of abuse for having the temerity for making a few quid out of an advertisement. Sure he should have concentrating on his football instead according to some..Personally I am no fan of the Aussies taking our brightest and our best but when a young lad gets this opportunity its hard to blame him for taking it. Not many Irish are successful down under. Oisin may buck that trend, but if he doesn’t I am sure he will be welcomed back into the fold in a few years time.

  15. Christ we can’t blame to Co Board for not looking after him . They do and always have helped players out if possible
    Oisin went to these ‘ trials’ before COVID
    He has had plenty of time to think about this decision… He is a model sportsman and looks after himself brilliantly
    Look , he’s not sick . He may be back . Best of luck to him , at his age and ability. There is no reason in the world to stay , not even a slim chance of winning an All Ireland with Mayo

  16. You only get one life…sure he may not make it but you got to take the opportunity and try it when it comes. I think he will make it for the record. All the best to Oisín.

    I think some of ye are in for a shock next year when worldwide travel fully resumes….young people are going to be off in their droves traveling which means clubs will be losing players.

  17. Good point Yewtree, once it opens up again fellas will go.
    Of course Oisin was going to leave. Marty Clarke had him picked out as the best they ever had at trials.
    I think the club championships point to another year of transition for Mayo in 2022. We have 2 forwards who can score.
    I find it funny that people ask could this player play here or here, why do we have to fit certain players in?

  18. He will be a big loss no doubt, but we reached the final without him and Cillian , we played great football against the Dubs in second half, if that was repeated in final we would have won with ease, all the team has to do is play for the full game and forget about star players.

  19. The best of luck to Oisin is right i wish him every sucses he’s right to give Austrailia a shot and I hope it works out for him. @Denis Nealis I dont think AOS has the speed to play centre back, i think his best position at this stage is on the bench, Aidan has given us some great years too even though he’s only 31 i think all the hits he took over the years is catching up with him. i agree with Willie Joe 2022 will probably be a difficult year for Mayo football but hopefully it will be a year where we will pick players on form and in their best positions not on reputation or past service. its the only way for success – be ruthless like Jim Gavin

  20. @Puckout
    Indeed certain players could do with some time on the bench, if you are constantly having the conversation about player x needing to tried in new position when they have already been tried in several positions unsuccessfully then the only conclusion left is that they ought to be benched/dropped entirely

  21. He must be double vaxxed! It will be interesting to see what position he ends up playing in for Geelong. Given Geelong’s recent history, I hope it’s not a case of out of the frying pan into the fire for Oisin. Having O’Connor and Tuohy will no doubt be a help to settle in. Looking forward to a few trips down the M1 to see him in action.

    In regards other counties and players making the move and will players stay or go, and why can’t we hang on to them, I think it’s the same as why any of us make the move, it suits some to move, others it doesn’t.

  22. Best of luck to Oisin, hope he gets a couple of years living the dream but my guess is that he will be back in the county jersey again down the line. The aussie rules game of today is very different to the game of 15 years ago as teams today contain many players with savage athletic ability. I still think the Irish guys that standout are those which combine fielding ability and playing vision…..both of which are still not in abundance when you watch that game. For that reason I think Tuohy and Stynes would make it through at any stage in that code and never return. So enjoy the highs and above all else come back in your prime Oisin in 2025…or sooner

  23. Good luck to him, now find a full back, a strong man at midfield and a Chf. At least we have time to prepare.

  24. Does anyone know why Caolan Crowe never featured much.
    I never remember him doing much wrong.Is he not an option at FB

  25. At least we won’t have to listen to Ger Canning calling him “Owh-Sheen” the whole time.
    Silver lining, however small, on every cloud I suppose!

  26. 1989, I remember paddy Andrews been asked who was the one Dublin defender that made him a better forward, who was that player in A v B games that he didn’t like to see coming to mark him, he said Fitzsimmons. Andy was asked the same he said Caolan Crowe.
    It just didn’t add up! I can’t see why he isn’t a regular in the Mayo team.

  27. I don’t think any young person could be blamed for wanting to go and have a blast of life either.

    It’s strange how the world turns. I remember moving abroad in 1985. Not because I wanted to go but because there was little or nothing in relation to work at here in this country. I would have wanted to stay in this Country but I suppose it was a good thing to have something to go to even if it was in another country.

    I suppose the wage is the main draw.

    I don’t think any young lad grows up in Mayo dreaming of playing Australian football. How would they ? Its not like its played here, or part of our heritage.

    I couldn’t blame any young person who decides to move abroad and hope to make a descent living playing a professional sport.

    What saddens me though is, I could never see anyone who decides to follow the professional path abroad, I could never see them returning, for example to Mayo, with the same enthusiasm to dedicate themselves as fully again, for no reward, to playing for their county.

    If money and a career in professional sports is the main draw to go abroad, then I cannot for the life of me see where the draw to return and represent your county for no monetary reward might come from in the future. That’s why I feel bad when I see a young person making the decision to head off in to the sunlight.

  28. Revellino, Ciaran Kilkenny made the decision to return largely because his attachment to Irish culture, society, cupla focal, the gaa family was so important to him. I think maybe perhaps he also spotted the volume of serious athleticism all around him when he delved into the game down under.
    So keep the chin up…..our man will be back one fine day hopefully

  29. Wishing Oisín all the best for the future. Time now to have a serious look at Niall McManamon for that full back position.

  30. Good luck to the lad. Right decision at the end of the day. Fame and fortune awaits. And worst case, if he doesn’t make it or enjoy it, he can always come back to us.

    I think we are now going to struggle for the next few years – This will be a big psychological blow for the remaining players as well.

    Personally, I think this team needs a few years in the wilderness now. Enjoy their lives a bit more. Sport is cruel, and i don’t think it will continue you to gift us chance after chance.

  31. mayomick2 – this is far less of a blow than losing Cillian 2 weeks before championship. We were missing Oisín against Dublin anyway so it’s not a fatal blow. Tommy, Ryan and Mattie Ruane would be much harder to replace. I’m pretty sure if you asked anyone on the Mayo panel, a couple of years in the football wilderness wouldn’t be the slightest bit enjoyable.

    Personally I’m not as pessimistic about next year as others on here. We’re still the best side in Connacht. Looking at the draw I think there’s a strong chance we make it back to the final against Dublin or Kerry. Actually winning the thing is another matter of course.

  32. Knockmore 2pt favourite over Garrymore
    Westport 4pt favourite over Belmullet.
    I think I will be picking Belmullet on that one.

  33. Glad to see this thread is more gracious and well wishing than the blaming, finger pointing and begrudgery of the last one.
    Good luck Oisin, hope you enjoy the experience, I’m sure you’ll make it happen.
    Being pedantic WJ but Oisin could have 2 games left wearing the green and red albeit the green and red of Kilmaine.

  34. Denis Neil’s.. why do we have to find a position for aos..he has played numerous positions. He is a good man to have on the bench at this stage. 31 or 32 he must be. A fast nippy forward would destroy him in full back. . I hope the loss of oisin isn’t the difference between leeroy getting his hands on the celtic cross or not. There isn’t a player in the country deserves it more.

  35. I hope Oisin is a rip roaring success in Oz. He follows a long line of Mayo people heading into the world to earn a living and broaden his horizons. We should all celebrate his success as it reflects well on our great county.

    As a long time emigrant, I know the fire that burns in every Mayo stomach never fades. Oisin will be fine and so will Mayo

  36. I drove through Kilmaine earlier today…and went into the pitch there.Just a basic field nothing fancy at all.Its fantastic to think that those guys have trained Oisin and produced such an athlete.Well done Kilmaine GAA!!

  37. @ wideball. Sure it’s not a fatal blow. We can cope without him. We may reach the all ire semi next year… or even the final. But it would seem to win an All Ireland you need a few marquee players around the field. And he was certainly marquee. But let’s see what happens.

  38. Its a great opportunity for Osion and one he must take but it is not without risk. The occurrence of injury is much higher in Aussie rules then in GAA and the career longevity is much shorter on average 6 years.
    Mayo are not likely to win AL in the next number of years but even if they were it would be a big draw for Osion or anyone. Perhaps if we were likely to win one he might put it off until it is achieved…but we all know the reality…

  39. Agreed Lahanman. Best of luck to him and I’m sure the Aussie Rules scouts sold the opportunity well, but most who go over there don’t make it and instead come home with a heap of injuries. Oisin already has injury problems. It’s a risky enough decision. But what else is he to do? Our best chance of winning an All Ireland in over a decade came and went a few months ago and we blew it. I don’t see us faring much better next year. So I don’t blame him for trying something else.

  40. An interesting point is that he’s joining a side on a downward trajectory. The AFL is a cyclic sport like almost no other, due to the salary cap and the draft system whereby a side really gets a “premiership window” of a few years, while all their star players are in their prime. For example, this years champions Melbourne Demons were the worst side in the league from about 2009- 2015. They drafted several elite young stars with top 10 picks back then and those guys are now about 26-28, and powered them to their first title since 1964 this year.
    Geelong have chosen a different approach in recent years. They tend to trade away draft picks for already established players, and have some of the games biggest names in Patrick Dangerfield, Tom Hawkins and Joel Selwood over the last 7 or 8 years, who are now all the wrong side of 30. They have been consistently in the finals/top 4 shakeup in that period and have flattered to deceive in the final shakeup several years in a row (sound familiar?) and indeed were hammered by the more youthful Melbourne Demons in the semi final this year.
    They have totally neglected youth in recent years, choosing a “win it now” approach and going all in on trading established stars in their late 20s. Having been a keen observer of the AFL in recent years, I think they have now run out of road. They looked a tired and ageing side in this years semi final. 11 of their best 22 are over 30 and the cliff is coming fast. In the AFL you cannot stay at the top forever. I think they are going to have the mother of all rebuilds on their hands in the next 5-6 years. No young elite talent is on the Geelong list under the age of 24 as they haven’t had any access to top draft picks and traded all them picks away in that last few years. The problem is the older guys are proven to be not good enough to win the premiership and are only getting older.
    So what does all this mean for Oisin?
    He’s going to be spending the next 5 years or so (if he makes it) playing for an also-ran. A developing side that are not in the premiership window. Geelong need about 3 or 4 drafts worth of elite talent which can only be got by finishing near the bottom of the ladder and getting access to the best 18 year olds in Australia via the draft.
    The problem with rebuilds in the AFL is that in theory they should last 4-5 years. However fans and boards get impatient and take shortcuts, which usually lead to extended rebuilds. Any fan of American sports can see this in multiple examples.
    It’s possibly that Oisin could play for Geelong for several years and never play in the finals. They are several years from a premiership I’m afraid. The same thing happened to Pearse Hanley. He spent an exceptional AFL career toiling away in the wilderness of the bottom reaches of the AFL ladder with Brisbane, as he joined a year or two after their all powerful 3 in a row side from the early 2000s fell apart.

  41. How did Oisin play today in what is likely to be his last game of Gaelic, for years at least. See two more Mullins in subs list, are they younger brothers and are they good prospects.

  42. The best of luck, Oisin. You’re only young for a while, so go and enjoy yourself and come home safe. Thanks for the memories.
    Up Mayo.

  43. First thing’s first, the best of luck to Oisín out in Oz. He doesn’t owe us anything and is only doing what thousands of non-athletic Irish people do every year. I know plenty of Aussies where I’m based and they all pine for home, in spite of having to stump up thousands of dollars for visas to bring their wives back home. Why? Because it’s a beautiful country where you can make a lot of money, particularly in trades. The Sheilas aren’t bad, either and the sun shines all year round. So if Oisin wants a bit of that then more power to him.

    I have friends over there and very few want to relocate back to Ireland for reasons along those lines.

    It goes without saying that it’s a massive loss to Mayo as we were hoping to build the team around him in the next decade or so. But honestly, the Tyrone loss convinced me that we’re unlikely to win an All-Ireland with the present group, and we haven’t been pulling up any trees at underage in recent years, either.

    I would have my doubts that he would come back the same in any event, given the attritional nature of AFL. Even though he won Sam this year, Conor McKenna didn’t seem to be quite up to full speed this year.

    Just as an aside, I would also be sceptical that full-blown international travel will resume next year. Some of the big Asian countries in particular seem to be struggling to vaccinate their populations and in Least Developed Countries (mostly in Africa), less than 1 per cent of the population have had the jab.

    It would probably be enlightened self interest at this point for the richer countries to donate some of their surplus stocks of vaccines to the poorer ones, to accelerate the end of the pandemic.

  44. I was hoping the lure of a great Mayo career could keep him. We’re near the top of the pile and consistently competitive without ever having quite enough marquee players. Oisin is and looking Enda Hession could be one of those but we need several more as Aido, Cillian and others approach the end of their careers. His Australian team sounds like a challenge but also a great adventure for a young man to try and excel at a professional sport. I wish him well and if he decides later to come back to GAA have no doubt he’ll be welcomed with open arms.

  45. Right on the money Larry Duff. Geelong are heading to the lower end of the table. I would be surprised to see them become a danger for another 5-7 years – players are too old – they had some great years – they tried hard this year but were run off the field by a young Melbourne club in the later stages of the competition – in fact they were hammered in that game. A great experience in a professional game for Oisin and good luck to the fellow but there will be no medals for Geelong in the near future.

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