He’s back

Cillian O'Connor

Photo: Irish Mirror

I’m a bit stiff and sore and slow to get going this morning after a fairly fast and hard 80km on the bike down in Clare yesterday. As some of you have already noted in the comments, though, there was significant news from the weekend’s club championship action that’s worth mentioning so I may as well do so. Not least because, in a welcome a change when discussing club action at this time of year, the news in question is positive rather than negative.

Cillian O’Connor missed a fair chunk of this year’s spring action with knee trouble and Noel Connelly admitted a few weeks back that it was touch-and-go if the Ballintubber man would be okay to line out for the county against Galway in Salthill on 14th June. The word I was hearing was, however, that all should be okay on that front but it was still a major surprise to see him appearing for Ballintubber in yesterday’s club championship clash with Ballinrobe.

Cillian came on as a second half sub in yesterday’s game and while he didn’t remain on the pitch until full-time, that had nothing to do with his state of fitness. Instead, he got shown a black card (you do still remember the black card don’t you? It was meant to be brought in for inter-county matches too but the idea never really caught on) after just 16 minutes on the field, in which time he’d contributed a point to Ballintubber’s tally.

The importance of Cillian’s return to fitness can’t, in my view, be understated. Quite simply, we’re a different – and far less potent – team in his absence and without him our attack is often blunt and lacking in incisiveness. And that’s to say nothing of what he brings to the party from placed balls, which has frequently been more than the difference between winning and losing. If we can now assume that he’s okay for Salthill (and I hope that we can) our chances of recording a third championship win on the trot over Galway at the venue will have been boosted significantly.

In case you haven’t seen the link in the comments, Colm Gannon’s round-up of the weekend’s club action in the Mayo Advertiser is here.

Elsewhere, the Rossies did the needful against London over in Ruislip yesterday and so now face Sligo in Markievicz Park on 21st June in the semi-final. By the time that one throws in, the winners’ opponents in the provincial final should, of course, be known.

Finally, it was once again a case of hard luck for the county’s hurlers, who went down to their third Christy Ring Cup defeat of the year on Saturday, this time in a relegation play-off against Wicklow at Cusack Park, Mullingar, on a scoreline of 1-18 to 1-11. It’s now a case of last chance saloon for the hurlers as they face a promotion/relegation play-off against the winners of this year’s Nicky Rackard Cup, which they’ll need to win to retain their Christy Ring status for next year. That play-off (which will be against either Armagh or Roscommon) is pencilled in for 13th June.

12 thoughts on “He’s back

  1. Yes, Also good to see Chris Barrett, Tom Cunniffe,Tom Parsons, Rob Hennelly, Ken O’Malley and Jason Gibbons playing with there clubs at the weekend. All our injuries seems to have cleared up.

    Interesting to see Jason Gibbons playing full game with his club?

    David Clarke had 3 excellent saves for Ballina on Saturday and Ger Cafferkey also had a very good game marking former co panalist James O’Shaughnessy

  2. That IS good news. I don’t think anyone will expect Cillian to be at match sharpness for Sunday fortnight but Galway will still have to watch him like a hawk and that’ll free up space for other forwards to do some damage.

    And of course, there’s the peerless free-taking. My guess is that this clash will be our toughest one with Galway since J O’M crash-landed Mayo football in Longford. We’ll need all of Cillian’s nous and accuracy to get through this one.

  3. Some of the fare on show over the weekend here in Galway was appalling to say the least. Didn’t see any Mayo action so cannot comment. Club Championship really is at an awful standard at the minute, Corofin aside of course

    This is simply tremendous news re Cillian

    However in saying that the Galway match doesn’t concern me, we should be able beat them with or without Cillian anyway if we are to have any notions of winning an AI. We play to near our potential we’ll win- that simple. If we lose it’ll be most likely down to our own failings- that’s just the way it is- so there’d be no complaints really

    Still 3 feckin weeks away, got to love Championship scheduling!! poor aul Monaghan after grinding out a win yesterday must wait a month for another game. In all of sport you’ll do well to find a more ridiculously scheduled event

  4. That is great news on those injuries. Our summer in my view depends on two big things.
    1. How well our injuries clear up. Giving us a strong bench and first 15.
    2. The football we can get out of newer lads like Kirby, Loftus, Coen, Durcan, Parsons
    We know what the more established players can do. Tom Parsons is somewhat of a new player, we’ve never seen much of him in championship.

  5. We’re a different animal completely with Cillian on the field. I still think he is very much under-rated inside and outside the county. He can score heavily from play, is rock solid from frees and is well capable of turning provider if required. He was beginning to destroy Kerry in the replay last year before he collided with AOS. That single moment turned our entire season. Will never understand how Enright stayed on the pitch after hauling him down.

    Good to hear Cuniffe, Barrett, Hennelly & co are all returning to action. I believe Galway will be a tricky opener as we have no real idea of where our form is at.

  6. Thats great news on the injury front. Apart from the long term injured, Evan Regan, Michael Conroy, I make it, was the only other player that I can think of that didn’t play at the week-end. So thats not too bad, three weeks out from the Galway game. There should be great competition for places in the coming weeks!

  7. Thanks Willie Joe and Done Deal – this is great news on all fronts relating to injuries.

    You know I had forgotten about some of our players, but to the jibe that is usually thrown at us about high mileage etc, we can say: what about Kirby, Parsons, Coen, Durcan, Douglas, Hall? And Diarmaid O’Connor is nearly a fixture at this stage.

    However, the sheer physicality of the best teams (us included) makes it difficult to break through to the first 15. Tyrone’s two U21s really struggled last week in the white heat of championship, and they are good players.

    There, I’ve said something positive about Tyrone. Better watch it.

  8. I presume our boys have learned the importance of patience in the area of recycling ball…patience and precision in making space…patience and precision in shot selection selection….all this coming from individual belief in their well established abilities and the belief that they will wil will do it this time! We now know what mindset is required to succeed against the few formidable possibles. The positive traits that we have shown to possess in the last few years need to be garnished with the realisation that the game has become a more profound affaire…one that requires a fresh understanding of what the game is about now.

  9. Cillian Looked sharp when he came on. He worked hard and his score was brilliant. He just left defenders for dead. As far as I know Kirby went off injured for the mitchels at half time against ballagh. Dunno the extent of the injury.

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