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Mayo footballer Cillian O'Connor pictured at the launch of eir's Allianz League coverage.
Mayo footballer Cillian O'Connor pictured at the launch of eir's Allianz League coverage.

Cillian O'Connor excited by emerging Mayo talent

By Cian O’Connell

On Wednesday evening news of the Mayo team filtered through for Saturday’s Allianz League opener against Roscommon.

Brian Reape and Conor Diskin are two emerging and promising Mayo forwards, who will make their first starts in the competition under new manager James Horan.

Cillian O’Connor has been sidelined following a knee injury, but the Ballintubber attacker is encouraged by how a new wave of talent are settling in the Mayo panel.

“It is brilliant, the young fellas coming in a lot of them are pulling up trees,” O’Connor says. “They are really looking for every sort of angle to improve themselves and that eagerness is infectious.

“It is rubbing off on older boys to start looking for those tiny ways to improve, be it training, mental game, sleep, eating, all that so it has added something in the last few weeks.

“It is exciting seeing these fellas because you see yourself in them a few years ago. I don't know the word for it, but it is exciting.”

Mayo exited the All Ireland Championship at the Round Three Qualifiers stage in 2018, but that early departure shouldn’t altered their approach to the upcoming League campaign according to O’Connor.

“I don't know about the approach, maybe you have more time to get a bank of work done as soon as you are allowed onwards,” O’Connor states.

“You probably get more work done, but in terms of winning games I don't think it is going to change the approach a whole lot. You want to win all the games you play, but maybe you might be that bit fitter earlier.”

O’Connor did enjoy success and earn silverware with Ballintubber, who had a nice cocktail of youth and experience when winning the Mayo title.

“Luckily enough for myself our club were very busy in the League and we were going quite well,” O’Connor recalls.

“We had a new manager, we had a couple of young lads breaking into the team so there was a bit of excitement in the club during the summer to distract me and to throw myself into.

“Luckily we went on a bit of a run with the club and it had been a few years since I had an extended period training week in, week out with my club mates and friends. So it was nice to feel part of that again fully.”

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