Saturday 25 November 2017

Little things can make all the difference for Mayo - O'Connor

Mayo’s Diarmuid O'Connor is keen to get back from a hamstring injury (SPORTSFILE)
Mayo’s Diarmuid O'Connor is keen to get back from a hamstring injury (SPORTSFILE)
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Reigning Young Footballer of the Year Diarmuid O'Connor hopes to be back in action in the "next few weeks" as Mayo continue their Connacht SFL campaign with a clash against Roscommon on Sunday - a game switched to Castlebar yesterday.

O'Connor has missed the start of the season but hopes to return in the early rounds of the league. However, his participation in DCU's defence of the Sigerson Cup depends on how far through the competition his team-mates can progress.

"It's not too bad, it's just been at me the last number of weeks," the Ballintubber man said of his hamstring injury. "The last six or seven weeks, I've been trying to get back running and I should be back on the pitch in the next few weeks.

"I have to meet the medical team in the next couple of weeks and they have to assess it. It will be up to them."

And while he has been on the edges of squad training sessions, O'Connor believes the players are pleased with new manager Stephen Rochford and his backroom team which includes respected former Armagh All-Ireland winner Tony McEntee.

Over the winter, they had forced joint-managers Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly out of the job they held for a season with Rochford, who previously guided Galway club side Corofin to an All-Ireland club title, installed.

"It was difficult," O'Connor said. "It was unfortunate the way things panned out. Nobody ever wanted to be in a situation like that, but we have moved forward and we are just focusing on this year."

The coup will focus even more attention on Mayo's footballers as they look to claim Sam Maguire for the first time since 1951, though O'Connor denies the players will feel more pressure.

"There's always been pressure around the Mayo players the same way there is on players in every county in the country.

"I am not sure if there is going to be much added pressure on the players in the dressing room anyway.

"The players won't feel it. There has always been pressure there. If you can't deal with it you shouldn't be there.

"It's how you use that pressure and not let it overwhelm you, just use it to motivate you and drive you on."

Diarmuid's brother, star forward Cillian, faces a lengthy spell on the sideline as he looks to return from knee trouble but the former still believes only small things separate the current Mayo squad from the ultimate prize.

"We've come close the last few years now but at the end of the day we just haven't been good enough," he said frankly.

"We are just trying to put that right this year.

"As I said, it's just the small few inches and the little things that make all the difference.

"Everyone is trying to improve individually and just try to push themselves that extra few inches and see where it takes us.

"It's not just a couple of things, it's thousands of little things you can improve on.

"You can dwell on them all you want but just trying to focus more on this year and looking ahead rather than in the past.

"It's a new panel this year again, new management, everyone has a clean slate.

"It's a brand new year. (We're) trying to not forget about last year, but just focus more on this year and see what we can do."

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