Mayo’s chances of Connacht Championship success this summer received a big boost yesterday when All Star forward Cillian O’Connor made his first competitive appearance for 11 weeks.
The former Young Footballer of the Year came on for 15 minutes during Ballintubber’s Mayo SFC first round win over Ballinrobe yesterday.
O’Connor, who has been sidelined with a knee injury since early March, helped the reigning Mayo club champions to a facile 1-23 to 1-8 victory.
During his second half cameo, O’Connor fisted a neat point before being shown a black card in the 54th minute for tripping Mayo team-mate Donie Vaughan.
Meanwhile, 2013 All-Ireland club finalists Castlebar Mitchels got their campaign off to a solid start with a 0-10 to 0-6 win over Ballaghaderreen.
Former Sligo All Star Eamonn O’Hara, who is now managing Ballagh’, set his side up extremely defensively and Castlebar struggled to break their visitors dow.
Ex-Mayo captain Andy Moran helped Ballagh’ to lead by 0-6 to 0-5 at half-time with four of Mitchels’ points coming from Aidan Walsh frees.
However, Ballagh’ failed to score in the entire second half with Barry Moran and Neil Douglas playing key roles in Castlebar’s victory.
Elsewhere, Paul McStay marked his first championship match as Ballina Stephenites boss with a comfortable 1-11 to 0-7 win over Claremorris.
2013 finalists Breaffy survived a scare to beat Davitts by 1-10 to 1-9 in Ballindine while last year’s semi-finalists, Garrymore, edged out Charlestown by 2-12 to 1-11.
Knockmore also hit the ground running with a 0-15 to 1-9 victory at home to last year’s Mayo Intermediate champions, Ballyhaunis.
A late goal saw Kiltane pip Shrule/Glencorrib by 1-16 to 1-4 in a dramatic encounter in Bangor.
Elsewhere, there was further good news for the Mayo senior management as defender Chris Barrett also played for club, Belmullet, in the intermediate championship on Saturday. A foot injury has meant Barrett hasn’t played with Mayo since February 1.
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