How much longer can James Horan afford to continue resting Cillian O’Connor?

Last night’s U21 win and, in particular, Cillian O’Connor’s MOTM display in the victory over defending All-Ireland champions Galway raises a fairly obvious question for James Horan and his selectors, i.e. how much longer can we afford the luxury of resting the 2011 Young Player of the Year from the senior team?

I know that what James is trying to do is admirable and stands in stark contrast to the Me-Myself-I attitude that John O’Mahony so often adopted in relation to under-age players during the disastrous Second Coming. (Remember The Politician’s annual March whinge once the U21 championship started up every year? In the end, you could nearly set your watch by him.)

I accept that the seniors should be able to cope without getting any help at this time of year from the likes of Michael Walsh, Michael Forde, Danny Kirby, Darren Coen, Evan Regan, Danny Geraghty and Conor O’Shea (all of whom have played at least some part in the senior squad since the start of the year). I also fully concur that it makes sense to hold as many of these lads as possible in reserve so that (Ray Dempsey’s rather bizarre line-ups notwithstanding) we’re in a position to mount a proper assault for honours in a grade that has so often been a happy hunting ground for us.

But Cillian clearly falls into a very different category.  When he established himself on the senior team last year – which only happened over the course of the Connacht championship – he quickly became indispensible. Last Sunday, we lost to Down by five points and in doing so missed a number of scoreable frees, the bulk of which – including a 14-yarder missed by Alan Freeman – you would think would have been meat and potatoes stuff for the young Ballintubber man. Last night, Cillian’s haul of nine points – on a night when Galway were kicking wides for fun – was the main reason we scraped a fairly undeserved but still very welcome win over the Tribesmen. We can’t do anything now about the Down result but can we really afford to continue with the policy of keeping our brightest young star on the sidelines next Sunday?

(Photo credit: PJ)

26 thoughts on “How much longer can James Horan afford to continue resting Cillian O’Connor?

  1. But he’s been recovering from injury, and from what others have said (I wasn’t in McHale park) he didn’t seem 100% last night.
    So surely nobody could ask him to play for the seniors against Donegal on Sunday, then against Roscommon for the U21s on Wednesday!?

  2. I can see what you’re saying, but I’d still leave him out for Sunday. He’s been injured lately and asking him to play on a Wednesday (with extra time thrown in as well), then Sunday and again next Wednesday is too much. He’s only a young lad so lets go easy with him and not force too much football on him.
    The last thing we want is to burn him out or for him to keep picking up niggly injuries due to playing too much.
    It’s only the league after all, so should be a chance for someone else to shine in his absence.
    If we were to beat Ros’ in the semi, when will the Connacht final be? If there’s a bit of a gap then sure, throw him in against Cork or Dublin.

  3. this is a MUST WIN game guys. a compromise can surely be reached whereby he is started on the bench and only brought on if required.

  4. Absolutely delighted with last nights win. We do well at that grade and its an invaluable site to work in. Cork, Kerry, Tyrone and latterly Dublin have reaped a good crop from the U21s.

    At the risk of more biscuits falling into tea or coffee or worse someone choking , can I give a view by the great man Micko (8 times manager of an All Ireland team). Micko was bemused by Laois and their attitude to the U21s. He wanted a few of them, the U21 manager would not relent and a war broke out. The board seemed to side with the U21 man and Mickol was annoyed , he led their seniors to their first leinster title in yonks, and they currently are yonks from another. Micko wanted glory for the senior, the rest didn’t matter in his eyes.

    Indeed we had a scenario in mayo oce where I think it was JP Kean, he was on the Mayo senior team but not picked for the U21 in a turf war.

    My own view is retain most of the lads coming through with the U21s but in the case where you need a reliable free taker and a lad who is physically strong, then take him. We have no problem running young bucks through thick February treacle in FBD, Sigerson and then inter4 county along with training sessions for each group. Keep the faith…young fellas just want to play. It might help if they were picked in their correct positions in the first place.

    By the way, if Cillian was carrying an injury last night or wasnt 100% then he should not have been risked with the U21s in the first place.

  5. Cillian was also not fit to play against Dublin in the league but was still picked. The lad needs rest. He had a long year for his club. Broke into the inter county first team being only 19! The serious stuff starts in June and when cillian has a niggling injury that is hampering him he should be wrapped in cotton wool unless playing with his own age group. He is the future and needs be looked after.

  6. Was at the game last night and thought like others that he wasnt moving all that well. U-21s play next wednesday again in what will be another very tough game away in Kiltoom. I’d hope he will be rested Sunday – We have enough of a squad in the seniors and I think James Horan has enough ammunition from their performance last sunday to ask the Ciaran Fitzgerald question and get an improved performance from the senior squad. We have few enough All Star quality players – lets have a bit of common sense when handling these situations.

  7. Surely anyone watching football has seen enough young talent ruined by being overplayed and knackered at a young age .
    Common sense must prevail and the u 21’s left alone to take care of their own “must win games”

  8. Albany, you have hit the nail on the head. We have far too many good young footballers ruined by being put ona senior panel too young. What can you tell an 18 year old that is already on the senior squad? He thinks he has it made and he has. Nothing to aim for. Was in castlebar last night Cillian was brilliant with the frees, not great from play. So what? Give him a chance, he is in college in Dublin , probably did not arrive in castlebar till 6 last night.

  9. On last night’s evidence he needs to be wrapped in cotton wool because without him we won’t beat Roscommon.

    Mayo seniors have enough good forwards to beat Donegal.

  10. rober you say “thinks he has it made…..nothing to aim for”-you are so far off the mark its beyond belief.A more level headed young man you wont meet.A guy that wants to learn every time he puts on a jersey,at any level.

  11. Horan is right not to play the u21s
    We had no problems with frees in Armagh.
    Hope we learn from last weeks defeat & have plans for loosing players to red cards.
    Our goalie was a bigger problem last week.

  12. in relation to the frees, why didnt Alan dillon step up against Down? surely he should have attempted one. he was excellent taking them for a few seasons Also is the 45s and keeper thing working? in hennellys case he must have only scored about2 in 10 attempts. Unfortunately seems like no one else can do it

  13. Cillian did not look fit last night, but he done very good on the frees. We did not loose the game to Down because Cillian was not playing. The reason runs much deeper than that. Next Sunday I would be concentrating on our ability to not conceeed too many frees, rather that converting the few Donegal are going to conceed to us

  14. @ Dan, if Mayo beat Ros, the final will be in Mayo. As Mayo have played both Sligo and Leitrim away last. Down Ros way we are not holding out much hope for our U-21’s this year. Heaps of injuries, our talented minors of 3 years ago such as Leyden, Carthy and Qualter all paying Rugby (2 for the grand slam chacing U-20’s), some others have emigrated. Overall doing very poorly in the Hastings Cup, losing to both Cavan and Longford and also some challenge games recently.

  15. Really survival in Divison 1 is on the line on Sunday.

    Laois must still play Down, Armagh and travel to Kerry. They have 2 points and you would expect will not finish with more than 5. I am writing them off as going down.

    Beat Donegal and we will have 6 points. They will be four points behind with 2 games left to play. One is in Croke Park. Given that Willie Joe said that games against the other teams count before score difference neither Donegal or Laois would be able to catch us if both lost on Sunday.

    However lose and we will have to pass out Down and Donegal on points and finish at least level with Armagh.

    So really no matter what happens this is likely to be our biggest game of the Spring.

  16. My understanding of it is that Cillian is doing his final teaching practice for college which is a major part of his degree, the lad must be swamped as it is.

  17. Friends, I put it to you that there’s no such thing as a must-win game in Division 1 of the National Football League. The numbers are illusory. While there isn’t that much of a gap between Division 1 and 2, there’s a huge gap between 2 and 3 and a yawning chasm between 3 and 4.

    Three divisions of 11 teams each is probably a more accurate delineation of where talent lies in the country. 11 counties in All-Ireland contention, such as Kerry, Cork and ourselves. 11 counties who would be longshots to win it all but could stop someone winning it on their day, like Limerick or Laois. And 11 others who have to set other goals for the year to keep it worth their while.

    So while you are in theory going down a division if you fall from 1 to 2, you are still playing against other contenders, of whom Tyrone are currently the most obvious.

    It’s a drop from 2 to 3 that would worry me, but while we’re in 1 everything is pretty much a training game. There’s nothing to lose. Dropping to Division 2 would be very far from a disaster, not least if it pays off later in the summer.


  19. well,if u tom dn,t get tha gist of it,may b u are old r mayb its tha late nite. Bed early maybe, hope u dn,t need a translator for ths 1..

  20. Pudsy Ryan would be proud of you johno,mo-and, like me,if you remember P.R. you are old!!

  21. I sure remember Pudsy Ryan – the Far East magazine wasn’t it? It’d be handy alright Johnno if you could tip your hat the odd time at the niceties of the English language so that those of us of a certain age could keep up with what you’re saying!

  22. And St Martin De Porres little dog called Fella! And Daithi Lacha and Paddy Crosby, and the wireless and saving the hay and the bottle of tea and ham sandwich and 1951 and……..

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