Cillian O'Connor hopes to make Allianz League return
By Cian O’Connell
Prolific Mayo forward Cillian O’Connor hopes to return to action at some stage during the Allianz Football League.
O’Connor underwent a minor knee operation just before Christmas following Ballintubber’s AIB Connacht Club Championship campaign.
“It is a funny one, it will depend on how it reacts to when I go back running towards the end of this month,” O’Connor explains.
The 26 year old will miss the early rounds of the League, but is keen to feature at some stage during the spring for Mayo. “If it goes well I can train with the rest of the boys in early February and I can look to get playing in the League," O'Connor adds. "Obviously if it is a little bit slower the reaction to the running it might be mid to late March. It isn't really defined yet, but we will see.
“It was probably something I've had for a year and a half or so. I was kinda feeling it and it was probably getting progressively worse, but we had a window there after the club to get it done, so we said we may as well.
“The ligaments were fine, it was just a small bit of wear and tear really that the doc said we should tidy up to get rid of the pain and the pain is gone since I had it. I just need to strengthen up the area now because there is a bit of wastage around the knee. They are bit weaker now so it is just about strengthening that for the next few weeks, seeing then what it is like when I go back running.”
The return of James Horan as Mayo manager has injected optimism into the green and red supporters again with O’Connor acknowledging his significant influence. “Of course, he is experienced, he has been there before,” O’Connor says.
“He would have managed a club team in Mayo (Westport) so he would know a lot of the younger players around the county, he would know the older players from his previous stint.
“He is a character who is always looking to learn, even in his time away he was upskilling doing different courses and shadowing different teams. I'm sure he has added to his repertoire over his last few months and years. It is exciting now to see what will happen.”
Ahead of the Connacht FBD League Horan staged a number of trials to assess the emerging talent in Mayo, but all the established players who were fully fit also participated which seemed a signal of intent. “Yeah, it probably was to the outside and to the public, but anyone that knew him from before would have known that anyways,” O’Connor states.
“As soon it was announced that he was going to be manager the players would have been well aware that there was going to be trials and that they would all be playing. It would nearly have been unspoken and accepted anyway that it would be a clean slate.
“That is just the way it has to be, the way it should be, the way we want it to be. It was no surprise that everybody was due to line out and to be honest June 29 we got knocked out so lads were mad to play, to get the boots on.”