MAYO'S Cillian O'Connor could return from a shoulder injury in time for a potential All-Ireland quarter-final on the August Bank Holiday weekend, writes Donnchadh Boyle.
The Ballintubber man moved to allay fears that his season was over after suffering a second dislocation of his left shoulder in nine months while on club duty last month.
O'Connor picked up the first knock a week after last year's All-Ireland final defeat to Donegal and that kept him out of inter-county action until the end of March, when he returned to action with the county's U-21s.
A close-season operation may be required to offer a longer-term solution, but while he conceded that the novel Connacht final encounter with London on July 21 will come too soon, he could see action in Mayo's next game, which is expected to be a quarter-final clash in Croke Park.
"I'm back doing light running and a small bit of ball skills," said the Kinetica ambassador. "In the last fortnight I've been able to go back kicking again.
"It's all away from the group and I haven't done collective training yet. I keep putting pressure on the doctor to tell me what the time frame is. But we do a strength assessment every weekend to see how it's improving because he reckons it's different for everybody.
"(The Connacht final) on July 21 might come too soon. If we were to get through that game, I'd hopefully be back for a potential game after that."
O'Connor made his championship debut against London in 2011. Mayo required extra-time to get past the Exiles that day and O'Connor wasn't surprised that London beat Leitrim last weekend.
"Once they beat Sligo I thought they might come through the Leitrim test," O'Connor added. "I wouldn't have been that surprised that they beat Leitrim. I know that Leitrim won the FBD League, but it was always going to be a close game.
"They have taken two huge scalps in Sligo and Leitrim, it's a huge achievement."