By John Fallon, in New York
Mayo’s new captain Diarmuid O’Connor may be out of their Connacht SFC opener in the Big Apple today but he has happy memories of this fixture.
The Ballintubber clubman made his championship debut against New York in 2014 and crowned the occasion with a goal as they cruised to a 4-18 to 0-8 win.
O’Connor is in New York with all the other members of the Mayo squad as they are using the trip for a short training camp as well.
O’Connor said that the 2014 victory will also hold a special place in his heart.
“It was my first game, I made my debut out there. It is a unique game, everything surrounding it, flying away, staying in New York, the heat humidity and the supporters surround the game.
“It’s very important to remain focused on the task in hand. There has been a lot of close games over there recently. We have to remain focused on our game and not get carried away with anything surrounding the game,” said the 24-year old.
His clubman James Horan had no hesitation in naming him captain when he was appointed for a second stint in charge.
And while O’Connor might have to wait a few weeks to lead the Green and Red out, he’s looking forward to the challenge.
O’Connor, who won an All-Ireland U-21 medal in 2016, said he was taken back when Horan approached him.
“I was very surprised, I wasn’t really expecting it when he gave me the call. It’s a great honour to lead and be captain of such a great bunch of lads.
“I didn’t really know what to expect, but so far nothing has really changed anyway.
Paddy Durcan will lead them out in his absence today at Gaelic Park in what is expected to be an electric atmosphere after thousands of Mayo fans have made the trip across the Atlantic or from their homes in New York or on the east coast of the USA.
O’Connor, recovering from a facial injury, said he hopes they can build on their league success and bring that sort of football into the championship.
“We put in good foundations in the spring. There are a lot of fresh faces, competition is high in the squad, so it’s good, it’s very exciting and we’re enjoying it,” he added.
The expected Mayo victory today will see them take on Roscommon in the Connacht semi-final on Saturday, May 25 in Castlebar.