O'Connor facing race against time to feature in league
Cillian O'Connor admits he's likely to head into Mayo's 2016 championship season without having featured in their league campaign.
An operation on a patella tendon problem back in November means O'Connor faces a race against time to feature in any of their Division 1 games.
And there's a strong possibility he'll go into their Connacht Championship opener away to London on May 29 having not tasted any competitive action.
"There was no real time-frame put on it by the surgeon," revealed the Ballintubber man.
"It's between two and five months and that's a big enough variation so towards the end of the league, it could be just before the end of it or after it I'm not quite sure yet.
"It will be a new experience (going into the championship having not played) but I'll have to get my head into the rehab and try and get as fit as I can before I go back running and get back into as much training as I can.
"It would be great to get in a league game just to get back into the rough and tumble of it again.
"I suppose the fear is that someone will light it up in the league and all of a sudden there's only one vacancy in the full-forward line and two or three lads going for it."
Between injuries and club commitments, incoming Mayo manager Stephen Rochford is without up to 15 players for their league opener against Cork including Cillian's brother Diarmuid.
The younger sibling is currently rehabbing an hamstring injury after flourishing last year when he followed in his brother's footsteps when winning the 2015 Young Footballer of the Year award.
And Cillian admitted his brother's progress did surprise him somewhat.
"I probably didn't expect his progress to go that quickly but credit to him he was deserving of his starting place when he got it in the league and held on to it for championship and he had that element of surprise that people didn't know too much about him and there's a lot to be said for that as well when you are not going to be singled out for extra attention from the start.
"He took a few games by the scruff of the neck and did the basics well. He's a good honest runner and emptied himself in every game."