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3 players who caught our eye


CRAFTY Cillian O'Connor

Mike Finnerty

Sam Callinan
Ballina Stephenites
BELIEVE it or not but last Sunday was only a second ever National League start for the talented teenager.
In a strange coincidence, his first start in the competition was also at Dr Hyde Park, almost a year to the day against Armagh.
Despite not featuring again last season, and only appearing once in the previous four rounds this time around, Callinan slotted back into the Mayo defence like he’d never been away.
A late replacement for Donnacha McHugh, the 19 year-old moved between the half-back line and full-back line as the situation demanded.
He was strong in the tackle, eager to get forward, used the ball smartly, and had the pace to get himself out of trouble and into dangerous positions.
Sunday was a reminder that Callinan is very much in the mix for a championship jersey.
He may only have eight appearances in total, but he looks to be a fast learner.

Jack Carney
YET again it was impossible to ignore the impact made by this upwardly mobile dynamo.
This was probably Carney’s most impressive performance yet for Mayo.
He picked up where he left off against Tyrone and, from the early stages last Sunday, he wanted the ball, looked comfortable and decisive with it in the hands, and was always looking to make something happen.
The 22 year-old’s athleticism and stamina mean he covers a lot of ground in the course of a game, but he’s also got the attitude and the skills to go with it.
He also showed great anticipation to score the second goal of his fledgling Mayo career, pouncing on a loose pass in the Roscommon defence to roll the ball into an unguarded net in the 45th minute.
This was Carney’s fifth successive start in an ultra-competitive Mayo half-forwardline, and right now he looks nailed-on to lead the attack into the championship.

Cillian O’Connor
SUNDAY was the first time since June 13, 2021 that Mayo’s all-time leading scorer had started a National League match.
That was the day he ruptured his Achilles tendon against Clare and the course of his season and career was changed in an instant.
So we can only imagine how O’Connor felt last weekend to be told he was ‘getting the start’ against the Rossies.
The 30 year-old looked like a man who was intent on making the most of the opportunity from the very first ball, and he prowled around the Roscommon goal, and led the line, impressively until he was called ashore in the 62nd minute.
The stats will show that Cillian shot seven points (six from frees and a superb effort from play in the third quarter), but that doesn’t even begin to tell the story of his overall contribution. He was outstanding in the ball-winning full-forward role.
It’s easy to see how he’s now made 116 appearances and scored 42-517.


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