Friday 24 January 2020

O'Connor insists Mayo have plenty to work on for semi-final duel

Mayo captain Cillian O'Connor. Photo: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
Mayo captain Cillian O'Connor. Photo: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

Tight games haven't exactly been Mayo's forte in recent years, and after squeezing past Tyrone in Saturday's quarter-final you could see the satisfaction etched all over Cillian O'Connor's face.

It was a war of attrition but Stephen Rochford's men came up trumps and despite the disappointment of their shock Connacht semi-final defeat to Galway in June, they've bounced back to make the last four.

After all the turmoil surrounding the resignation of Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly last October, they now meet Tipperary with a final place up for grabs and the opportunity to end their 65-year wait for Sam Maguire success.

Throughout his inter-county career O'Connor (pictured) has never known any route to the knock-out stages other than through winning Connacht titles but the Ballintubber ace, who hit seven points against Tyrone, believes they have embraced the fresh challenge and enjoy playing week after week.

"It's a new experience for me. I hadn't played in the qualifiers before. It was a little bit different, our time-frame between games was different. Thankfully the set-up is good in the way the coaches look after all of that stuff and they just come to us with the information," he said.


"'We need to train these days, we need to rest these days'. So all we need to do is get our mindset right for it. You can't be feeling sorry for ourselves or aching and moaning for a day or two. You just have to get on with it.

"As soon as the game was over the last day (against Westmeath)you're brought down to earth, you have a new opponent to fix yourself on straight away, you're not up too high for too long, the analysis has to start straight away on them (Tyrone).

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"We were confident coming in and it was easy to focus with plenty of areas for improvement."

Much had been made of Mayo finally delivering an accomplished display but O'Connor feels there's still much room for improvement ahead of the Tipp tie on August 21.

"We knew we were capable but talking about it or waiting for it to happen is dangerous. Some of the talk about a big performance in us or 'it's coming', you have to be wary of falling into the trap of presuming it's going to fall into place," the 2014 All-Star said.

"We didn't leave anything to chance in our preparation. Would we be happy with our performance? Stephen has outlined a few reasons why we wouldn't. Again we have plenty to work on."

Irish Independent

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