MAN ON FIRE Cillian O’Connor
FOR far from the first time, and hopefully not the last, Cillian O’Connor has us reaching for the record books.
Every score he kicks these days widens the gap between him and everyone else in the all-time championship top scorer ranks after surpassing Colm Cooper’s previous record last year.
O’Connor keeps finding other ways to rewrite the record books too.
On Sunday, he scored the highest amount anyone has ever scored in one senior inter-county football championship game – and in an All-Ireland semi-final to boot!
An amazing haul of 4-9 broke a record O’Connor jointly held with Fermanagh’s Rory Gallagher, both of whom scored 3-9 in one game, O’Connor’s coming in 2018 in a Qualifier win over Limerick. Also sharing that old record was Dublin’s Johnny Joyce, who scored 5-3 against Longford in 1960.
O’Connor’s broke the all-time Mayo top scorer record that day he filled his boots in Limerick.
Sunday was his fourth senior championship hat-trick after the efforts against Limerick in 2018 and back-to-back hat-tricks against London and Donegal in the 2013 Connacht Final and All-Ireland quarter-final respectively.
Sunday’s four goals by the Ballintubber star is not the most goals any Mayo player has ever scored – Peter Solan hit 5-2 against Sligo in the 1949 Connacht semi-final.
O’Connor’s first-half hat-trick was the second time he has grabbed a hat-trick in one half, coming off the bench after returning from a shoulder injury to hit a second half hat-trick against London in 2013.
Another record broken by Mayo on Sunday was the most scored by Mayo in one half of football.
When James Horan’s men hit 2-17 against Galway in Tuam in the league in October, we searched the record books to discover it was the highest Mayo had ever scored in one half of football.
We would have confidently predicted it was a tally that would not be surpassed for years to come, but Mayo did it not just in the same year, but in an All-Ireland semi-final.
Diarmuid O’Connor’s injury-time goal brought Mayo’s first half tally to 4-12, one point past the Tuam tally.
They were ruthlessly efficient in that half, with an 80 percent shot conversion rate, 16 scores from 20 shots. They weren’t bad in that respect in the second half either, with a 64 percent conversion rate, nine scores from 14 shots – although James Horan would argue it was higher, insisting Jordan Flynn’s shot which was waved wide was over.
Flynn himself appeared to ask David Gough to refer the matter to HawkEye, but the technology was not working due to the dense fog.