Horan not ruling out O’Connor from the final

Working his way back: James Horan has not ruled out Cillian O’Connor from the All Ireland final. 

Working his way back: James Horan has not ruled out Cillian O’Connor from the All Ireland final. Photo: Sportsfile.

The countdown is on and Mayo’s medical team and Cillian O’Connor are doing all they can to try to get the Ballintubber ace in shape for Sunday fortnight’s showdown with Dublin. James Horan’s honest appraisal of O’Connor’s chances of making the final this week, was that he just did not know. “I don’t know is the answer. He’s with the medical team. He’s rehabbed very well, working with the physios a couple of times a day, we’re just looking to see is he a competitive option for selection. So far so good.”

When asked would O’Connor be risked if he was not quite right, due to his importance to the team from placed balls along with general play, Horan was clear that he would not consider it if there was any risk to the players long-term welfare. “If there was any risk to the player we wouldn’t entertain it. We’ve gone to the head guy in the country and we’ve a very, very, competent medical team, so if there was any risk of long term injury that would jeopardise anything, there wouldn’t be any question. That’s obviously the primary point.”

The two-time young footballer of the year was the main topic of conversation at the top table of the Mayo press night ahead of the final, but Horan did get a chuckle from the press corps with an 1980s action movie reference when asked if O’Connor’s injury was on a lesser scale if there was one. “I was going to say, we’ve all watched Lethal Weapon. From what I can take, it’s a very similar injury, if it happens once or twice it’s not as significant as if it keeps happening till you have an operation to deal with, that’s my layman’s interpretation.” He did say that there was an expected four week recovery from the injury, “I’m not a medical expert, but basically, the muscles around it are obviously sore, so you’re trying to rehab those muscles as well as you can. It’s usually a three or four week recovery time, from what I understand, and you obviously try to accelerate that recovery, that’s basically what it is.”

As for what he thought of last weekend’s semi-final between Dublin and Kerry, there was plenty for him to mull over he reckoned. “It was an interesting game, there was a lot in it. I think some of the Kerry play was really good and James O’Donaghue and Colm Copper gave an exhibition of forward play. Dublin did their thing and ran out winners in the end, it was a tight game, there was a bit of everything in it and some stuff that wasn’t so good, and we’ll be looking to get at the stuff that wasn’t so good.” He continued: “Every team has weakness, everyone saw the game the last day, Kerry got a couple of early goals on them. You know the way Dublin play, it leaves an opportunity, there’s no question about that. But I’m sure that they’ll look at their performance the last day and try and maybe, defensively improve what they do.”


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