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Diarmuid delivers the goods


CAPTAIN FANTASTIC Mayo captain Diarmuid O’Connor lifts the cup after Sunday's National League Division 1 Final win over Kerry. Pic: Sportsfile

Mike Finnerty

AS Mother’s Day presents go, a National League trophy and a man of the match award takes some beating.
But Mary O’Connor will be admiring the New Ireland cup and some TG4 crystal in Ballintubber this week after her son, Diarmuid, became the first Mayo man since Noel Connelly in 2001 to lift the prestigious piece of silverware.
Around thirty minutes after climbing the steps of the Hogan Stand, becoming part of an illustrious shortlist of Mayo captains in the process, the 24 year-old ambled into the press room at Croke Park.
O’Connor was wearing the number seven jersey that Donie Vaughan had worn during the game, a pair of Mayo shorts (his own, we assume!) and a pair of red runners.
As always, he was wide-eyed and looked incredibly content.
And the words came easy to him as he summed it all up.
“It’s a great win. Throughout the league we were building on every game and improving every game, even the games we lost, I think we did a lot of things right during those games.
“After every game we reflected and built ahead of the next game, and today was no different.
“We just treated it as round eight of the league, and not so much as a final, a big day, or a special occasion.
“We just worked on what we had to improve on from last week, and I think we did that, mostly in the second half.
“The first half we made a few simple errors, we just tweaked a few things then at half-time, and it came right in the end.
“It’s a great win, it means a lot, we’ll celebrate it, but after today and tonight we’ll just look straight to the Connacht championship.”
“It’s unbelievable, I’m not going to lie,” he added, resting his chin on his hands as he made himself comfortable at the top table.
“It’s not very often that we’ve won silverware up here so, for the supporters, it was a great feeling seeing all them. And seeing my family after the game, and getting to celebrate something with them.
“It’s been too long since we’ve been celebrating silverware, the [last] Connacht championship was four years ago, and that’s too long for these supporters.
“Hopefully it’s not the last time we’re celebrating this year.”
O’Connor’s older brother, Cillian, captained Mayo for three seasons, but didn’t get to lift any trophies.
Last Sunday, he was one of the first ‘non playing panel members’ to congratulate his young brother on his achievement and watched proudly as Diarmuid accepted the cup.
Afterwards, the Mayo captain explained that the leadership group in the squad makes his job an easy one.
“It’s a huge honour, I’m delighted to be captain of such a great bunch. But has anything changed? Not really.
“If you were in our dressing-room before the pitch and at half-time, you wouldn’t even have noticed who the captain is. And it’s the same on the pitch as well.”
That’s Diarmuid O’Connor in a nutshell; he goes with the flow.
And he’s built for the big occasion.

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