It was fun in the sun for the Mayo footballers as they blitzed their way past a hapless Limerick in the Gaelic grounds last Saturday evening.
Cillian O'Connor amassed a massive 3-9 out of the 5-19 scored and in the process became Mayo's all time leading scorer surpassing Conor Mortimer's record which “The Mort” set in 2012. O'Connor will have his eyes firmly set on Colm Coopers record now and only needs 24 more points to become the all time leading scorer in championship football. This will be achieved in 2018 if Mayo get a prolonged run in this years championship and providing O'Connor stays injury free.
It really is a remarkable feat considering he has just turned 26 years of age. When he surpasses Cooper's record I imagine it will never be beaten. And If he plays for another four or five years he will end up with a total way off the charts that will simply look astonishing. A qualifier route is certainly no harm for increasing your scoring statistics. And yet we don't have a marquee forward, say some!
New faces get some time to show their stuff
Mayo won't take a lot out of the game against Limerick apart from it was a means to an end. It was as emphatic as I expected but apart from Cillian's performance and Andy Moran's cameo which yielded him two goals the other forwards will be slightly disappointed they didn't fill their boots.
James Durcan has shown that his pace will get him into plenty of scoring opportunities but he will be unhappy he scored only one point while kicking two straight forward attempts off target after getting himself into great positions.
Cian Hanley, another who notched his first championship score for Mayo, has bundles of energy but will need to learn fairly fast that taking the ball into tackle is not the best option given the increasing physical attributes of the current GAA player. All in all I was glad both started as they will only learn from their experiences and improve as a result.
The other slighly worrying aspect was the concession of three goals against one of the poorest teams in the country. Although two of them were from very soft penalties, Keith Higgins won't be happy he was caught badly for Limerick's second goal from a long ball over the top but the reality is Mayo were more than comfortable after we realised Cillian O Connor had his eye in from the get go.
On the comeback trail
It was great to see 2016 player of the year Lee Keegan back in the jersey in a competitive environment, but I have to admit my heart was in my mouth shortly after his introduction as he made a penetrating run on the stand side of the Gaelic grounds only to be pushed in the back while at full throttle by Limerick man mountain Josh Ryan (who hard to believe, but made Aidan O'Shea look small ) resulting in Leeroy falling heavily on the hard turf. I was relieved to see him bounce back up to his feet.
After Andy Moran's introduction himself and Cillian reminded me of the Harlem Globetrotters as they toyed with the Limerick defence, walking the ball into the net. But if you haven't seen it yet try to get a look at Cillian's first goal. The back heel flick from the Mayo captain to Evan Regan in the build up would be raved about if it was Neymar or Messi doing something similar at the World Cup.
Fans show their class again
There is no question though the highlight of the day for me was the massive show of appreciation for injured Tom Parsons as he made his way to his seat in the stand with his wife Carol. It made the hair stand on the back of my neck. Apart from all the positives from a performance point of view, that showing of admiration to Tom made the trip worth while. It was great he was available to assist Darren Frehill and GAA President John Horan at RTE's Radio Centre on Monday morning for the round two qualifier draw where Mayo got drawn away to Tipperary.
Time to topple Tipp
Again in my opinion, the perfect draw. Probably the second toughest draw Mayo could have asked for but one to focus the minds as Tipp' will have notions of causing an upset. Mayo's walking wounded were visible to see in Limerick with Brendan Harrison most definitely the main worry going forward. Donal Vaughan should be fit for the trip to Tipp alongside Barry Moran and Neil Douglas, but Harrison will not be after undergoing surgery on a knee injury on Wednesday, June 7 — An injury he picked up in a recent challenge game before the match against Limerick. He is having a tough time at the moment with one setback occurring after another but he is extremely determined to get back on the field. I wish him well, he will be needed.