Diarmuid O'Connor: 'Mayo have a huge array of talent coming through'

Diarmuid O’Connor was on the Mayo side which lost to Dublin in December’s All-Ireland SFC final, his third decider defeat in a seven-year inter-county career
Diarmuid O'Connor: 'Mayo have a huge array of talent coming through'

Diarmuid O’Connor pictured in the new 2021 Mayo GAA jersey revealed today by sponsor Intersport Elverys. 

Mayo's Diarmuid O’Connor believes the injection of youth into their squad will help offset the retirements of some key personnel.

O’Connor was on the Mayo side which lost to Dublin in December’s All-Ireland SFC final, his third decider defeat in a seven-year inter-county career, but after putting that setback behind him, the Ballintubber man hopes to improve again in 2021.

Keith Higgins, Chris Barrett, Seamie O’Shea, Donal Vaughan, Tom Parsons and David Clarke have all called time on their county careers since that loss but O’Connor thinks the Mayo panel has the ability to evolve and prosper.

“The six lads will be massive losses, and not just on the field,” said O’Connor. "They were massive leaders and great friends. But luckily we have a huge array of talent coming through. I think that was shown last year and there were a lot of debutants. The average age of the team was way down on previous years.” 

When Mayo launched their Connacht championship campaign against Leitrim last November, manager James Horan handed out seven debuts, with three of those new faces — Oisin Mullin, Eoghan McLaughlin and Tommy Conroy — all nominated for All-Stars. Mullin was named at corner back on the final 15.

And O'Connor now wants to build again having parked the disappointment of last December.  

“The hunger is always there, but what is happening in the world at the moment, to be able to play and go out and express yourself, it’s unbelievable to have that opportunity. We got that last year after the break and it was great. Before the break I felt things had got a bit heavy. We were being a bit hard on ourselves and maybe over thinking things. 

"For me anyway, after the break, it was nearly the sheer enjoyment of being back, it made me ask myself: Why am I over thinking things? Just go out and try to express myself and enjoy the battle.

To have the opportunity to play for your county is unbelievable and to see the joy that it brings to Mayo people is huge.

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