Cillian a sound choice for captain

Cillian O'Connor

Photo: Irish Times

I can’t say I was taken aback at yesterday morning’s announcement that Cillian O’Connor has been appointed captain of the Mayo senior football team for this year. Ever since he first appeared on the scene, Cillian has been one of the leading figures within the squad and it was only a matter of time before the honour of team captain was bestowed on him. I think it makes perfect sense to give that role to him now.

It won’t, of course, be the first time that the Ballintubber man has captained his county in big championship matches at Croke Park. Back in 2010, Cillian was skipper of the county minors, a team that won the Connacht title and then overcame Offaly in the All-Ireland quarter-final before losing out to Tyrone at the semi-final stage.

At the risk of jumping too far ahead as regards the tests that await us at senior level this year, there’s a chance that we could end up crossing swords with the O’Neill County at a similar stage in this year’s championship. If this happens, you can be certain that Cillian will want to ensure that the team he leads to be the ones that come out on top. Indeed, I’d say coming out on top in every match the team plays will be his focus during his time as on-field head honcho.

Best of luck to Cillian in his role as captain this summer and good luck too to the team he’ll lead out in this year’s championship.

Have you got your Club and County Development draw ticket for May yet? If not, you can get it online – here.

57 thoughts on “Cillian a sound choice for captain

  1. Wishing Cillian and the team well this year! And hopefully we’ll get some luck too.

  2. Congratulations and best of luck to Cillian. I think he’s an excellent choice for the role.

  3. An important aspect to this appointment has to be Cillian’s fitness and freedom from injury. He has not been able to contribute as we and no doubt he would have liked over the past two years. Stephen Rochford, Sean Moffat et al must be fairly confident that the long term knee problem is solved. Here’s hoping that is the case and barring a new injury, which is a risk for every player, Mayo will have the benefit of the full range of Cillian’s remarkable talents as well as his leadership on the field.

  4. Indeed he is the type we need to lead, it was epitomized a few years ago when a donegal defender floored enda varley and stamped on him on the ground. The next thing we see was Cillian leveling that defender, it spoke volumes. Remember when mort was flung like a rag doll into the Tyrone net? Nobody said a word or hit back, even though I think we won the game I the end it was disappointing that Ricey the Tyrone buck was allowed to do it.
    Cillian is the man that will raise Sam for Mayo if the others follow his lead and get stuck in as needed. I see Tomas o se is saying that he thinks Mayo are equipped to shoot Dublin down, he reckons that Dublin have a “scumbag” streak in them for some reason! And that Mayo are ahead of Kerry in terms of ability to beat the dubs. What a day that would be, can you imagine Mayo dethroning the kings in their own court ? Beyond sweet.
    Time will tell I suppose. Hardluck to the ladies team, keep at it and spread the load of Cora Staunton, anything is possible with the talent I that team if they set up right.

  5. Congrats to cillian delighted for him diarmuid
    could be a future captain as well we need a bit of luck this season too

  6. I think it’s a fairly obvious choice from the available selection. If I’m not mistaken he’s captained before?.

    I’m a big fan of Zippy but I think he didn’t play as well as he could while having the captains role last year. I know a lot was going on in the camp, and I’ve no idea what exactly it was, but I just think he wasn’t the same capable player while having the captains armband. Perhaps trying to do too much?. I just don’t know.

    Anyway – does anyone know if the Mayo London game will be on SKY or GAAGo?. I don’t believe it’s on RTE.

  7. Best wishes to Cillian for the coming season. He must be our youngest captain ever. We have a conservative streak in us when it comes to selecting a team Captain and I do not remember any 24 year olds before this. This a great honor also for the Ballintubber club.

  8. Best of luck Cillian and team…we are behind you all.

    Unrelated but I have just watched one of the most harrowing documentaries on bbc on the Hillsborough cover up. I feel sick. Nobody should ever go to a football game and never come home. I think fans of all sports can relate to that. Credit to the families and LFC who never gave up.

  9. Best of luck cillian.he actually came on at half time in ballintubber league game v crossmolina today and he looks in good shape!

  10. I agree Mayo.Mick , if we believe those yarns from Kerry folk then we are foolish and repeating the mistakes of the past. Play our own game. Know what we know. I do think that Cillian O Connor is a tremendous leader . He is a no nonsense guy and will not be moved by the ridiculous statements of Tomas O Se et al. As supporters we would do well to think ” like Cillian does” and not fall for ” easy thinking”.

  11. Congrats and best wishes to Cillian on his captaincy.
    I don’t know if it was remarked on yet but I just saw Mickey Conroy’s reaction to being dropped from the panel on and it was class – no hint of resentment, just wishing Rochford and the team best wishes. I would not rule out Mickey making a return next year if he gets a year of injury free club football behind him – or perhaps earlier if somebody else gets injured or whatever.

  12. Mick, I will try to take your advice. Thanks. Would you see Kerry beating Dublin in August if it came to be a matchup? I wouldn’t say they would beat them, too many years on the go for some Kerry lads might be enough to have slowed them in my opinion. There’s a lot of things to have to go right for Kerry on a given day to beat this Dublin and that’s a proven fact since 2011. Tomas wasn’t building Mayo up, no point in it at this stage, I think he was being honest.

  13. Congrats and best wishes to cillian and the team for 2016 go get Sam take it back to the west and all the best to the boys who was cut from the panel they did us proud Sam for the west 2016!!!!!!!!!?

  14. Would’nt be paying much heed to whats been written in the paper, lets concentrate on getting through Connacht first, then see how we’re fixed come August. Congrats to Cillian, perfect man for the job.

    I think its foolish to be writing off Kerry (remember 2014). A bit of luck on the day and they could beat the Dubs when it matters in the semi. I still think that McCaffrey and O’Carroll will be sorely missed come the big games, that Dublin fb line can be got at IF its done right.

  15. Congrats to Cillian on taking up the reins of captaincy. It’s a mighty responsibility for anyone and let’s hope he blossoms in the role. Have to say the appetite for what’s to come is beginning to fill…..and hav’nt we a handy midfielder in New York?

  16. Well there’s one yarra that’s sticking to the script predictable Pat reckons we don’t believe enough in ourselves to win the holy grail , and he predicts we will be beaten finalists …. Again …. Delighted for Cillian and best of luck to him & the team for 2016 , although I thought that the honour might go to Colm Boyle & Cillian vice captain, must be the youngest Gaa captain ever is he? Any word on who Stephen Rochford is bringing in?

  17. Cillian an obvious choice.

    Re championship predictions, most seem to be forgetting the iron law of football: champions do not retain their title.

    At this time of year champions are invariably forecast to triumph and retain their title. These particular champions are different, the refrain goes, and will succeed where others failed. Remember the talk about Kerry this time last year? Champions, who now had Gooch back, Tommy Walsh for added steel and fetching etc, David Moran improving further, and the clincher, Galvin back for his all-round experience and mopping up ability.This time last year Dublin were regarded as flaky when the heat came on, despite their league final demolition of Cork.

    My prediction? Dublin will not win. They will suffer for the loss of O’Carroll and McCaffrey. McAuley is good, but he’s way off the McAuley of three of four years ago, even if Fenton is coming along nicely.

    I’m not saying who will win (!), but I don’t think there are world beaters out there, and I think this has been borne out by the league this year – Dublin were there for the taking in the Donegal, Mayo and Cork matches.

  18. I’m assuming the Mayo London game will not be on the telly?. While I love the commentary in Midwest, and nothing beats being there yadda yadda yadda, I’d love to be able to watch this closer to home with a feed of pints before and hopefully a further feed of pints after.
    Sky are telling me nothing about what they will be showing this year, and Its not appearing on the GAAGo schedule either, so that’s what I’m basing my assumption on.

    Any hopes someone in attendance will be doing a periscope job similar to what some lad did for the NY/Roscommon game?.

  19. Excellent Catcol, apt reminder of what was been said last year. As for Kerry pundits they’re like their team as described by Brolly – bitter and mean spirited!
    Kerry will have enough to worry about in Munster as we will have in Connaught before thinking of how to deal with the dubs!
    Good luck to Cillian, great leader, always a team player!

  20. Good luck Cillian, I very good appointment, natural leader. Not sure who the vice captain is but I would opt for a member of the Dublin based lads so there is a voice in both training camps.

    I dont think Cillian is the youngest ever, Michael Murphy was young when he got it (hope this appointment goes in the same direction). Also Kerry have have plenty of baby captains due to their prehistoric selection process.

    Dublin are AI favorites and rightly so, you cant argue that they are not the best team playing right now. As for unbeatable, no way. No one is unbeatable, just look at Leicester and Connacht, if we set up in the correct way and maximise the players we have then of course we can beat them, it would take a more defensive approach imo to do it but by no means an impossible task.

    I dont think O’Carroll is a major loss for the Dubs, Cooper and O’Sullivan did incredible work screening him last year and this will continue this year. McCaffery on the other hand is a major loss, no matter who they have in reserve, he is a class act. him missing will limit their options of attack by a considerable margin come the business end of the championship.

  21. The only team with the tools to beat Dublin is us. No-one else has the experience, stamina, defense, midfield and heart to go toe-to-toe with the Dubs. Some teams have better forwards but not our middle third, some teams have a better defense but not our attack, Mayo has the most complete package of the remaining contenders.
    Look back to the two games v Dublin last year and it’s frustrating to see how many times we had them but didn’t put them away. Dohertys poor shot selection and misses, McLoughlins right footed miss, the “not called” penalty, Andy not squaring the ball back for an open goal, Keegans miss and had Sweeney got his shot off a split second earlier we would have won.
    We will be playing a different style come the summer with a tactical acumen allied to an open and inclusive management team on the sideline. Regan, Loftus and O’Shea to offer something different to our attack from the start and from the bench,
    Mayo to beat Dublin by 4 points in this years senior AIF. You heard it here first.

  22. FDBinashui, I was thinking of doing a live periscope on the match, but I’ve only 2 hands, photos to take, maybe some video clips, flags to wave, *maybe* a bitta roaring the lads on! If I get chance I might have a pint or bottle of Magniers 😉

    I’d be hoping that someone will do a live broadcast (hell, haven’t we come a long way from the auld wireless!)

  23. – Congrats to Cillian on a great achievement for one so young.

    – Would like to agree with you Pebblesmeller that we can match Dublin in a range of areas, the one area we cannot match them at the moment is pace in every position. The Dubs can peak for August/September as bar Kildare fielding 15 horses and Meath deciding to do bare knuckle fighting, Leinster at the moment looks like a foregone conclusion.

    – I have thrown off my Kerry blinkers (too many beatings from them have coloured my view) and while they had a systems failure in the AIF last year they sure as heck did not have one in the league final, their system worked but it was burning oil after 55 minutes.

    – Tyrone seem to have jumped up the media rankings and while they are sticky opponents at the best of times and while Mickie Harte will definitely have the tactics to beat the Dubs he does not have the men as Tyrone are lacking physique in key positions.

    – Cork have the footballers but no heart and no plan and are two years behind Dublin with regards to teamwork and systems.

    – I would really like to know the secret as to how the Dubs can remain at optimum fitness for most of the year for the past 4 years. They have some fitness regime in place.

    Unbeatable – no but they have a lot of the aces.

  24. Pebblesmeller, thank you for that. It made my day. Whatever happens it will take a monster to beat Mayo this year if all our key men stay fit.

  25. Olive, Dublins main advantage is their player base, they have a greater selection of players for each position. They rotate their players very well during the league with more established ones filtering back in the the latter stages of the league. As you said they dont need to peak until August as Leinster is ridiculously poor, which is not down to the Dubs rather how the other teams have allowed themselves to go backwards.

    Last year imo Dublin were at the height of their powers, almost the complete team, they fixed thier defencive issues from 2014 and were bang in form. It still took a replay to beat us and we had more than enough chances to win it.

    We are not that far off, I firmly believe our problem lies with our naive defensive approach. I expect this to be addressed with this management team. We have very good defenders, Keegan, Higgins, Boyle, Caff are as good as whats out there (all 4 would be starting in the current Kerry team) its about how they are set up. With a few tweaks to close off the space between the two back lines we would be in business. This in turn would take some of the immense pressure off the forward unit, allowing them to work better shooting opportunities and not force shots or take half chances.

  26. Mayo Mick, an auld periscope would be the job if neither Sky nor the National Broadcaster decide to show.

    I wonder will Irish TV be showing, perhaps deferred coverage, given it’s actually in the Irish TV Stadium?.

  27. Am making a conscious effort this year not to get carried away and start day dreaming about September ..and then I go and read pebblesmellers post!!

  28. Congratulations to Cillian and best of luck to him and the team in the championship. Beware of Tomas o Shea and other Kerrymen bearing gifts about us being equipped to beat the Dubs Kerry haven’t gone away you know. If they hadn’t a man sent off in the league final they might have pushed on they certainly wouldn’t have been beat by ten points. I think Tyrone are dangerous this year too but Mayo have a very very good team and we need not fear anyone if we take it one game at a time and hold our concentration

  29. FDBinashui, they cant show it as all the rights for Sunday games are between Sky and RTE. If anyone was following the plane *landing* in Enniscrone, there was a fella who, off his own bat set up a live feed of the landing!

  30. I too would take anything the Kerry man says with a pinch of salt. That said, Mayo are the only team over the last year or so to truly bring the game to Dublin. Physically, Mayo are best matched for them. I don’t think Kerry have the legs to match Dublin over 70 minutes anymore. They worked very hard in the league final and I still never felt they were going to win that match. Dublin had them at an arms length without even having to be at their best and what’s scary is that they will find another gear for the summer.

    Tyrone are a potential banana skin. Mickey Harte is an excellent tactician and is capable of devising a plan to beat anyone.

  31. local club streaming do excellent coverage of club matches here in the county. Maybe with sponsorship or donations they could do it, if legal to do so.

  32. Congrats to Cillian, I reckon that he is the right man at the right time, especially after what we have come though, i.e. the management heave last year so I think that he will be well able to handle anything that is thrown at him and his team.

    I’d say there must be some slagging going on in the O’Connor household, in a good way of course, with Diarmuid having two All-Ireland medals in his back pocket while Cillian is still waiting for his first.

    Best wishes to him and to the team that he leads into battle, in fact he is leading us all from this great county of Mayo into battle and no better man to do the job!

  33. I think our pace is close to Dublins.
    The quick: Higgins/Keegan/Durcan/Parsons/McGloughlin/Regan/Diarmuid
    Fast enough: Hall/Boyle/Harrison/SOS/COS/AOS.
    Come August/September when the big lads are peak lean we should be motoring nicely athletics wise.

  34. It would be prudent to focus our efforts on London and Galway. Every year the same shite gets spouted about us being the only ones to beat Dublin. Reality check needed if the last couple of years’ AI champions roll of honour was not already sufficient evidence. Pay no heed to Tomas O’Shea either – his sole agenda is to put fire in the bellies of his former team mates for the summer ahead. Congrats to Cillian – no doubt he’ll make an excellent captain.

  35. I think this Mayo team is too mature to take any team for granted. It will be one game at a time. That said anything less than an All Ireland at this stage will be considered a failed year by this team and let’s be honest….anyone here see anything less than the ultimate as a good year? Doubt it

  36. Did anyone hear the remark o se said about calling the dubs scumbags not a nice remark at all.

  37. Good man Pebblesmeller! Nothing like a bit of fire in the belly on a Monday night.

    And yew_tree, you’re right. That’s not to say we wouldn’t have a decent stab at it again next year, or the year after, but those lads – rightly – only want one thing this year, as do we.

    Cillian is an excellent choice for captain. Off now to have a little moment for myself picturing him walking up the steps of the Hogan … with PLAN B in full operation 😀

  38. Congrats to Cillian. Can’t believe how ridiculously excited I am about going to Ruislip…..especially considering the last Mayo game I watched there (on the telly) when I was a young cailin was ’93 semi when Mayo lost to Cork by 20 points. Onwards and Upwards ???

  39. Mayo News tweeting that another U21 (not named, see tomorrow’s paper) has been added to panel.

  40. It’s the usual soft talk from him and he was generalizing I suppose but I wonder who O’Shea could have been giving the dig to, I mean he didn’t actually say Philly McMahon’s name……..
    Cillian will make an excellent captain I have no doubt. Shteady, as the fella sez.

  41. Exciting times ahead for Mayo football, Cillian will be a great captain and we can only wish him well. Our only hope now is that he remains injury free, because with a fit Cillian, the sky is the limit.

    I think our biggest challenge this year will be getting out of Connaught, should we manage to achieve that, the team will have gained a lot of confidence, Management should by then know their starting 15 and will have a very strong bench to insure plenty of competition for places – the key to Dublin’s success in recent years.

    On a side, the team could do worse than invite David McGowan in for a chat. Because seeing first hand what this man has achieved against all the odds, in bringing this massive Boeing 767 plane from Shannon to his glamping site in Enniscrone in truly amazing. This should be an inspiration to anyone who has a dream – and don’t the long suffering Mayo people have the biggest dream of all.

  42. The plane story is a great example of starting with the desired result and working backwards.
    British cycling do this. They estimate what % improvement they need for all their athletes/teams.
    – We have to be 1% leaner
    – Squat 2kg per man more
    – Be 0.5kg per man lighter
    – Sleep 1% better
    – Get sick 1% less
    All tiny achievable things. Rather than something difficult like
    – We need 10 Watts per man more power.
    They improve all the small factors related to power, stamina, aero dynamism.
    Still a lot of gains can be made in Gaelic football.

  43. As far as I can see the comments made by Tomás Ó Sé about us are pretty much the same thing that most people on here have been saying since last year’s All-Ireland final and especially since the league final, that we see ourselves as the second best team in the country at the moment. I don’t see anything sinister in his comments, in fact he throws in the usual national media comment about us, that we don’t have the fire power in the final third of the field. I wouldn’t be too bothered about what he says about us but I’m sure that Eamonn Fitzmaurice is not too happy about his comments about the Dubs. He has really riled them up, he did the same thing last year before the Munster final, he criticised Cork big time and the Kerry camp wasn’t happy with him about that either.

    Peter Canavan said this about us in The Indo today:

    (Mayo have a great chance of winning the All-Ireland, with a change of management sure to freshen things up. Add in their considerable physicality, the feel-good factor from the U-21s winning the All-Ireland and a hunger second to no other team and you’ve got all the basic ingredients for success.)

    So that is where we are at. Our destiny is in our own hands. We should have a quiet confidence in ourselves, that on our day we are as good as any team out there. I wouldn’t make an arrogant statement like, we are the only team that can beat Dublin but I would make a statement like, we can be the best team in the country this year and that’s what we should all be aiming towards. Roll on the games!

  44. @JP, I think David Brailsford may be getting a few % from another source, time will tell, although I agree about marginal gains. Jim McGuinness has put us into prime position in his Irish Times article. The media are trying to build up a credible alternative to the Dubs and the Kerry mafia are doing a two fold job of getting into the refs heads by talking about Dublins rough element, while also deflecting the pressure off themselves.
    I don’t think Jim McGuinness has an agenda and I agree with his analysis that we are the best equipped team to beat Dublin, however, many others in the media might not be as agenda free.

  45. Was just about to put it up HSE. It’s actually a very good article and once again shows he’s the brightest mind in Gaelic Football.

  46. Would have to agree with Jim, Mayo are close but a change in plan is needed to get over the line. We cant enter another year playing with the same gung ho attitude as previous year. It will only end in tears as usual if we do. I do fully expect Rochford and McEntee to change things and make us much more difficult to beat.

  47. McEntee is there for that very reason. To introduce the aggressive, teak-tough, take-no-prisoners, defensive mentality that Mayo need. To introduce a system and mindset that stops us conceding soft, critical, result-defining goals. To lay out a few forwards on their arses and bring some cynical, thou-shall-not-pass defending to our armory. Test out a few mouth guards along the way.

  48. I think we are in danger of getting a little ahead. The press will say what the press will say in order to sell papers/generate clicks or whatever passes for revenue generation these days. I’d be a bit wary of what they do say as they are hardly going to say that there’s no point in anyone else bothering as Dublin are going to run away with it again this year.
    Dublin missing a player here or there is not going to make as much of a difference as people think.
    And now I contradict myself and say that we were one block by Jack McCaffrey away from being in the Final last year….
    We probably are closest to Dublin and what I think went wrong last year was we had no plan B, and Plan A was lump it in to Aidan on the edge of the square. It worked well against Galway, Sligo, Donegal but not against Dublin. Now to be fair, this should have been spotted. Aidan couldn’t buy a free all year, so why was any Referee suddenly going to amend that trend in a Croke Park packed to the Rafters mostly with Dubs who would have less of a Journey to reach Croker than anyone in Erris or Achill would have to reach the outskirts of their own County.
    What worked against Dublin was pressing up on their kickouts and leathering into them like they’d not seen before. Yet we persisted with lumping it in to Aidan again in the Replay.
    I’m positive on what we’ve seen from Mayo and I hope and expect Rochford will be a bit more multi dimensional with how we set out our team for the Championship. We still have to play 3 games before entering the All Ireland Series Proper, so we certainly need to set out our stall accordingly.
    Here’s hoping for 6 wins on the trot and doing what we can do.

  49. Pebbles, yes McEntee is there for exactly that. Also Rochford brought him in beacuse of his kick passing background. It is Rochfords preferred style of play and McEntee is rumoured to have spent the first 3 months of managing a Dublin club teaching them how to kick pass properly, which is also a trait of his Crossmaglen teams. I would expect the ball to be moved alot quicker into the forward line using the foot this summer.

  50. Great excitement building in the world of blog. Many inspiring commiemts ,recommendations and forecasts since I last looked in. Pebblesmeller must be leading the convoy of positivity at this early stage and why not. There is not a doubt in my mind that Sam Magiire will be decked out in green and red next Sept if all your embroidery stitches are all lined up and properly executed.
    And Mayo MC Hale,it would be no harm at all to have D McGowan in for a consultation on how to get something done that most people would have thought impossible.But I will suggest to you that that he ll probably be telling you as he’s telling everyone else that it all started small and gathered momentum into a process and each little bit along the way had to be orchestrated with great care and patience.And he ll tell u about the obstacles he met and how he bypassed them or took other routes to get to his goal and that was to get the Big yoke up on the Enniscrone beach. And still, as the barge was facing its last few metres he thought to himself ‘ there’s something wrong going on here’ and it was righted in the dark and she landed.
    So David (aptly named btw) is the man with a vision while all of the hundreds who helped out along the way are the players, who, combined together and brought the great trophy to Enniscrone. And now the little seaside town is our latest shrine with multitudes coming to pay homage to King David and his ‘ Big Yoke’
    For me, our All Ire will be part played against London soon and there the process will continue through rough and tumble until our team deserves its place and gains its place up on that rostrum surrounding Cillian O Connor as he raises the big silvery cup to the roaring Mayo masses.

  51. Excited about the championship really looking forward to it dark horses could be Galway everyone mention the Rossies but I think Galway are dangerous I wonder o se comments about the dubs was he referring to a certain dub player.

  52. I’ll always go back to the All-Ireland semi against the Dubs when as a kid O’Connor lined up a 45 into the hill. And nailed it. And the next one. And the one after that. He just exuded confidence and composure and has never let us down since then. He’d had a fine game in the Connacht final that year but to step up to the hill was somethings else.

    A great appointment.

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