Cillian O’Connor sees consistency as key to success for Mayo in 2024

As Mayo prepare to get their 2024 league campaign underway, a player who has seen it all before is Cillian O’Connor.

The all-time points scorer in the championship, the Ballintubber forward has been involved with Mayo since 2011, and his experience is valued even more by Mayo following further retirements.

Injuries and the emergence of younger forwards have limited O’Connor’s playing time in the past few seasons, but he is coming into this weekend’s clash against Galway fully-fit.

“I think being injury free is crucial. You want to be available to train and help your teammates and push things on,” said O’Connor.

“Obviously, at the weekend, you want to be there for your team when you are needed. It is hard to watch on [from the sidelines]. For 99.99 per cent of sports people, injury is going to be part of it. Thankfully, a clean bill of health at the moment, and touch wood, hopefully keep it that way.

“It was a hamstring issue that dragged on and kept me out. At the moment, I’m really happy with how I’ve been able to train fully since we came back, and I’m enjoying it.”

This summer saw the retirements of Jason Doherty, Kevin McLaughlin and Brendan Harrison, a trio that has delivered at key moments for Mayo over the years.

Combined with younger players settling into the squad, the leadership of O’Connor could become even more important for Mayo, who had to wait for his opportunities this season.

A former Mayo captain, O’Connor said he is enjoying seeing younger players grow and taking on leadership roles.

“It is fresh and it is exciting. I think every team is always in transition. You’d very rarely have two panels that would stay the same, 36 from one year to the next. Every year I’ve played there has always been a little bit of turnover, maybe more so in the last couple of years.

“I don’t think age necessarily dictates whether you’re a leader or not. There are guys in the panel, of all ages, who have those qualities and have developed them over a couple of years.

“Lads, who have captained schools teams, U20s teams, minor teams, so there are plenty of voices across the squad of different ages.”


In Kevin McStay’s first season in charge, it was a mixed year for Mayo. They picked up silverware when they won the Division One final against Galway in Croke Park.

However, this was followed by defeat to Roscommon in the Connacht provincial championship a week later. The All-Ireland series saw a victory away to Kerry, but a costly defeat to Cork forced a preliminary quarter-final away to Galway, in which Mayo grinded out victory.

The season was brought to an end by eventual winners Dublin a week later, as O’Connor admitted consistency is key for Mayo if they are to be successful this season.

While he said the rivalry between Mayo and Galway makes this fixture special, Mayo’s focus is one game at a time, as they saw last year how the season can change in an instant.

“You think you are on top of it, and a couple of moments can flip your momentum and change your season. I suppose our approach to try and get consistency.

“As cliché as it is, that’s trying to be consistent in our session tonight, and then trying to be consistent at the weekend, without getting distracted by things down the line.

“As players, something we would think about is when we get the calendar, you get the fixtures, you start to get giddy and planning things, and start thinking about different possibilities. This year is no different.

“We place our trust in our management team, and backroom team, our strength and conditioning coach, our physios. They are the guys that know sports science.

“We just follow that programme to a tee, and the lads who do it best in our group, tend to get on the best performance-wise. We just trust them to train us best, and it has been brilliant to date.”


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