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O’Connor’s final agony as shoulder injury almost certain to rule out top scorer

Cillian O’Connor is all but certain to miss Mayo’s All-Ireland final on September 22 after being forced off with an injury to his already suspect right shoulder yesterday.

The two-time Young Footballer of the Year, who has scored back-to-back hat-tricks in this year’s championship, was sent to the Mater Hospital after an innocuous aerial challenge with Conor Gormley in the 11th minute.

O’Connor, 21, had been expected to undergo surgery on the shoulder after it flared up again in a club game following May’s Connacht quarter-final win over Galway. He first dislocated the shoulder playing for Ballintubber the week after last year’s All-Ireland final defeat to Donegal.

"I had a talk with the doc and it didn’t look good the way he fell," admitted James Horan.

O’Connor had been in excellent form for Mayo, their top scorer this summer with 6-14 despite having missing the Connacht semi-final win over Roscommon through injury and coming on as a half-time substitute in the provincial final against London.

Meanwhile, former Mayo boss John Maughan has declined to quash rumours linking him with the Westmeath manager’s job.

Asked by RTÉ’s Gavin Jennings during a public event in Dublin previewing the Mayo-Tyrone All-Ireland semi-final whether there was any truth in the speculation, Maughan simply replied: "I went to school in Westmeath and I’ve a lot of friends there."

His fellow panel member John O’Mahony added: "I think the bookies will be closed after that!"

Pat Flanagan is keen to remain in charge of the team after bringing them to Division 1 this season while Jason Ryan has also been linked with the position.

Elsewhere, Jim McGuinness dismissed reports suggesting he has already decided to stay on for a fourth season as Donegal manager.

The Glenties man, who was analysing yesterday’s All-Ireland semi-final on BBC Northern Ireland, said: "There is no truth in that. I haven’t given my intentions to anybody. I’m still thinking things through. I think that’s very important to do that.

"The biggest thing for me is to be able to prepare the team properly and I don’t think we got that opportunity this year on some levels so that’s one of the issues we’ll be looking at. There are also a few other things as well."

On Saturday morning, McGuinness, selector Maxi Curran and goalkeeping coach Pat Shovelin met the senior panel at Letterkenny’s Mount Errigal Hotel. McGuinness’s assistant Rory Gallagher is currently on holiday in the US. The Donegal management team then met county chairman Sean Dunnion, treasurer Grace Boyle and secretary Aodh Mairtín Ó Fearraigh in a meeting that is said to have lasted 75 minutes.

The Celtic FC employee said on BBC he wants to stay on providing "the conditions are correct".

"I haven’t decided yet. At the end of the year, we do an analysis of everything — players, medical, staff and so forth. That hasn’t been finalised yet and I don’t want to be Donegal manager for the sake of being Donegal manager. I want to be there for the right reasons and also for all the systems to be in place."

In other news, recently-retired Kildare footballer Ronan Sweeney will team up with his former selector Niall Carew as his assistant manager with Waterford next season.