Cillian O’Connor has for some time been on the cusp of breaking the all-time top scorer record in the Championship. He’s been our leading all-time scorer for a while and, had our Championship run in 2018 lasted anything like as long as the previous few years, then he’d surely have beaten the record by now.
But then Newbridge happened and the knee surgery he underwent last winter meant that the Championship scores dried up on him early last summer and didn’t start to get racked up this year either.
It was a truly welcome sight to see Cillian join the fray from the bench against Armagh last weekend and the two pointed frees he got that evening were his first Championship scores in over a year. Starting a game – in League or Championship – for us for the first time this year, last night down in Limerick he bagged six more points.
All of which sent me scurrying around today looking to see where Cillian stands vis-à-vis the all-time record and how many more points he needs to break it. The short answers to these questions are very close and not a lot.
Taking as my starting point this piece by Conan Doherty in Sports Joe and assuming that his numbers are correct, it was a straightforward bit of counting on the fingers to figure out how far off the record Cillian now stands. That piece was written before the start of the 2018 Championship, at which juncture Cillian was in second place in the all-time top scorers table, his total of 310 points only bettered by Kerry’s Colm Cooper on 352.
Since then, Cillian added a total of 31 points to his tally up to the night we crashed out in Newbridge last year, followed by another eight points since his reappearance in the colours last weekend. That’s 39 points he’s ladled onto the 310 he had before last year’s Championship.
This means Cillian now stands just three points short of equalling Gooch’s record, four from surpassing it. If last night’s performance – his first start all year – is any indication, that target is well within his range next weekend.
How deliciously appropriate it would be if the prolific Ballintubber sharpshooter were to beat Cooper’s record on the county’s very first Championship match in Fitzgerald Stadium. Here’s hoping he does and, to boot, that it’s part of a winning tally for us down South this day week.