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O’Connor takes record in his stride

Sport

MEETING THEIR HERO Mayo’s Cillian O’Connor signs autographs for supporters after last Saturday’s All-Ireland SFC Qualifier in Limerick. Pic: Sportsfile

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Edwin McGreal

HE may have become Mayo’s highest-ever scorer on Saturday evening,  but there was no hooping or hollering from Cillian O’Connor afterwards.
The Mayo captain emerged from the dressing-room to speak to the media, a rare post-game interview by the 26 year-old, so perhaps it was a nod to his record-breaking achievements.
While O’Connor was speaking to us, his team-mate Andy Moran could be heard quizzing Mayo GAA PRO Paul Cunnane if maybe O’Connor had also broken the all-time highest individual score in a single game of championship football.
Moran was marvelling at O’Connor scoring a seismic 3-9, but the man himself was taking it all his stride when we asked him about his return for the day.
“Yeah, I didn’t even know what it was, it was around that. Yeah, happy enough with that to be honest” he said.
And how does it feel to now be Mayo’s top scorer of all time?
“It’s something I saw there a while ago. A few people had said it to me last month or whatever. It’s kinda disrespectful but it’s nice to have that out of the way. There’ll be nobody on about it now. I suppose it is something nice to look back on down the line. Right now, it is all about winning the next game and making sure this journey keeps going,” he said.
O’Connor was happy with how Mayo functioned up front, in the main.  
“The forward play there at times was good, there was good interplay. Even when they had bodies back and we got held up coming up the field, generally we were able to work something; win a free or work an angled run and get shots off.
“That was definitely intermittent. It definitely did not happen for 75 minutes. The middle period of the second-half, the forward play was good.”
He was full of praise for rookies James Durcan and Cian Hanley, who made their first starts, and he also singled out Evan Regan for praise.
“(James and Cian) have been banging down the door at training trying to get in. They have been roasting lads in sessions so I was delighted to see them get their chance. Two savage attitudes. Rego as well, he has been plugging away too trying to get his start, he got it today. His ball-winning ability is huge for us. He is always an outlet, no more than James and Cian. We’re going to need that moving forward.”
Injuries and suspension saw six changes to the match-day panel from the defeat to Galway, but O’Connor pointed out that there had to be consequences for that loss and players pushing well in training earned their shot.
“Anytime you lose, there has to be a reaction there. There has to be a consequence for the people who didn’t get the win. That’s the reality of it. You then have to look then to the people who have been pushing. After the Galway game, that is what we did.
“The boys knocked on the door hard, they got their chance today. The way we see it, once you have a jersey, it is yours to hold onto. I’m sure there were subs here looking at those three boys, saying, ‘That can be me the next day’.”
But after 3-9 it’s fair to say O’Connor doesn’t need to be looking over his shoulder just yet.

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