Thursday 22 March 2018

Horan optimistic star forward will be fit for Dubs showdown

Mayo manager James Horan
Mayo manager James Horan
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

James Horan has sounded a more optimistic note about Cillian O'Connor's fitness for the All-Ireland football final.

The Mayo manager stopped short of saying O'Connor, who dislocated his shoulder for a third time in 11 months in the semi-final win over Tyrone, would start against Dublin.

But twice daily physio is going well and a return to light training over the weekend have increased hope that their leading scorer can play a significant part.

"He's rehabing very well. He's working a couple of times a day with the physios. We're just looking to see can he be a competitive option for selection," said Horan.

"So far, so good. The muscles around it are sore, so you are trying to rehab those muscles as well as you can. It's usually a three or four-week recovery time for something like that, from what I understand."

O'Connor is facing surgery down the line, but the key to his participation on September 22 will be an internal match on the weekend before the final.

"We've been using our 'red and green' games the week before the championship matches as real indicators of how people are doing," Horan said. "It will be no different for the final."

Horan said his understanding of the nature of the injury was that the more it kept happening, the less significant it became.

"It's not as significant if it keeps happening, until you have an operation to deal with it. That's my interpretation of it," he said.

"If there was any risk to the player whatsoever, we wouldn't entertain it. We've gone to the head guy in the country and we have a very competent medical team."

Horan dismissed any element of risk attached to O'Connor's swift recovery or his potential participation in the game. "If there was any risk of long-term injury or anything that would jeopardise anything," he said.

"We have got free-takers who did okay the last day. If Cillian isn't up to doing a job for us, he won't be selected. It's how people are playing. We just have to wait and see."

Horan described last Sunday's semi-final as "interesting."

"There was a lot in it. I think some of the Kerry play was very good. James O'Donoghue and Colm Cooper gave an exhibition of forward play.

"Dublin did their thing. There was a bit of everything in it. There was some good stuff and there was some stuff that maybe wasn't so good."

Horan expects that Joe McQuillan will be appointed match referee sometime next week, but doesn't expect the same focus of attention on cynical fouling as there was in the week of last year's final.

"There might be more pressure on the ref than any of the teams, whoever is selected. And more than likely it will be Joe if you look at the data," he said.

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