Mayo SFC: Cillian O’Connor makes a scoring return to action

Cillian O’Connor in action for Ballintubber last year

Former Mayo captain Cillian O’Connor made his first appearance in almost five months when he lined out for Ballintubber in the first round of the Mayo SFC on Saturday evening.

O’Connor, who has been rehabilitating from knee surgery since late last year, was introduced as a second-half substitute as Ballintubber got their defence of the Moclair Cup off to a winning start.

He kicked a point as the champions beat their neighbours Hollymount/Carramore by 0-18 to 1-3 with two-time All-Star Alan Dillon turning in a man of the match performance.

Dillon hit three points while Stephen O’Malley, who landed five points, and county midfielder, Jason Gibbons, were also to the fore.

Mayo captain Diarmuid O’Connor finished with three points to his credit as Ballintubber ran out comfortable winners.

Elsewhere, last year’s beaten county finalists, Breaffy, beat Davitts by 1-10 to 0-7 despite lining out without county duo Seamus O’Shea and Matthew Ruane.

Stephen McDermott scored the winners’ goal from the penalty spot with Liam Irwin, who lined out with London last season, marking his return to the club colours with five points.

Longford native Colm Flynn, who captained the TG4 ‘Underdogs’ last year, also made his championship debut for Breaffy after his transfer from Ballymahon.

Castlebar Mitchels and Ballina Stephenites played out a thrilling draw with Neil Douglas grabbing the equaliser to earn the Mitchels a point.

Ballina led by 1-9 to 0-8 after 53 minutes but Castlebar hit the last four points of the match to salvage a share of the spoils.

Luke Doherty scored the Stephenites’ goal in the first half with National League medal winners David Clarke, Ger Cafferkey, Evan Regan and Ciaran Treacy all lining out for the North Mayo side.

Aghamore and Westport couldn’t be separated either as their first-round game — which was streamed live on Mayo GAA TV — finished 1-5 to 0-8.

Substitute Eoghan McLaughlin kicked a late point to earn Westport a draw as ex-Mayo forward Alan Freeman chipped in with four points from frees and picked up the man of the match award.

Despite not scoring in the second half, last year’s Mayo Intermediate champions, Belmullet, marked their return to the senior ranks with a narrow 0-8 to 0-7 victory over Charlestown.

Their north Mayo neighbours, Kiltane, also had to pull out all the stops to pip Moy Davitts by 0-7 to 0-6.

Meanwhile, Knockmore, who haven’t won the Mayo SFC title since 1997, got their campaign off to a flying start with a 1-9 to 1-5 win at home to Garrymore.

And evergreen Mayo attacker Andy Moran was the Ballaghaderreen hero as they came from behind to beat Claremorris at the death.

Moran, who finished with 1-7 to his credit, converted a last-minute penalty to snatch a dramatic 2-10 to 1-12 win for Ballagh’.

Cian Hanley also marked his return from injury with a goal.

The second round of the Mayo senior club championships won’t take place until after the county’s footballers exit the All-Ireland series.

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