Cillian O’Connor never felt that the Mayo cause was a lost one this year, even after the dreadful Connacht defeat by Galway.
They barely made it beyond Fermanagh and were more impressive against Kildare but the odds favoured Tyrone to advance.
With O’Connor around, you always have a chance. While free-taking opportunities were sparse, half of his six points came from play. When he goes well, so do Mayo.
Perhaps that is the belief that sustained him in the bad times.
“I think we were confident coming into it” said O’Connor. “We had plenty to work on from the last game. It was easy to focus with plenty of areas for improvement.
“I don’t think we’d be concerned that (a big performance was) beyond us. I think that we knew we were capable but talking about it or waiting for it to happen is dangerous. We didn’t leave anything to chance in our preparation. Would we be happy with our performance? Stephen has outlined a few reasons why we wouldn’t. Again we have plenty to work on.”
It is a reminder not just of O’Connor’s relative youth but of the exalted levels Mayo have been operating at that this is the skipper’s first experience of the qualifier route.
It isn’t what he would have wanted but the redemptive opportunities provided by the back door have certainly been welcomed.
“It was a little bit different, our time frame between games was different. Thankfully the set-up is good in the way the coaches look after all of that stuff and they just come to us with the information.
“We need to train these days, we need to rest these days. All we need to do is get our mindset right for it. You can’t be feeling sorry for ourselves or aching and moaning for a day or two. You just have to get on with it. When you win (Saturday) it feels like we are (benefiting from the experience). It can be fickle, if we had lost people might be talking about tiredness.”
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