Hennelly: O’Connor a marquee forward

Mayo goalkeeper Rob Hennelly has rejected the common belief the county don’t have a marquee forward. The claim has been made for most of James Horan’s term in charge but Hennelly need only point at Cillian O’Connor to dispute it.

“The thing about marquee forwards, if Cillian O’Connor isn’t classed as a marquee forward at this stage I don’t know who is. He’s been the top scorer in the Championship the past couple of years and he’s two years younger than me like. It’d be a bit harsh to say he wasn’t.

“Then you have the likes of Andy Moran, Kevin McLoughlin, Alan Dillon, Jason Doherty. So I think that issue is put to bed or should be put to bed. I have to try and stop shots from them as well so I know all about it!”

Hennelly believes it’s difficult for Mayo to receive recognition for anything other than an All-Ireland title. The recent four-in-a-row of Connacht crowns being a case in point.

“I don’t think we get credit for anything we really do! It is a huge achievement, I know in Mayo it hasn’t been done since 1951. There’s a lot of history attached to it but for us as a group it’s great to have, but now that we have it we’re forgetting about it.

“It’s got us where we want to be and that’s back in Croke Park for the quarter-final. We’re looking forward to playing either Sligo or Cork so it’s good to be back where we want to be, Croke Park.”

The Breaffy man feels he is more aware of Mayo’s successes than he used to be. The 2012 season away from the panel gave him perspective.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have more of an appreciation than I had. There was more of an expectancy when I got the start in 2011 that I was going to be there for the rest of my life, until I decided that I just wanted to give it up.

“But circumstances materialised that were probably a bit more difficult to deal with than I thought. I made a decision and now that I’m back it’s nice to, every so often, check yourself and think, ‘I definitely wouldn’t have been sitting here last year launching the All-Ireland series’ so it is a nice perspective to have.

“But that’s all it is. It’s nothing. Everyone has sob stories and everyone has sentiments but they’re no good to you. You make the most of the opportunity and that’s what I’m doing at the moment. That’s what I’m trying to do and plan on doing.”

Meanwhile, Mayo manager James Horan has a few injury concerns ahead of the All-Ireland SFC quarter-final following last weekend’s round of club championship but still expects to have a full side to chose from for the August Bank Holiday weekend.

“There was still a certain amount of guys that couldn’t train last night with knocks and bangs so no long-term damage but with these club games you would still always lose a couple of sessions each side of it, you can’t have guys tired going into club games and then getting knocks and bangs the far side of it so it halts you in your tracks.

“Adam Gallagher got a bad bang on his hip so he’s out. Lee (Keegan) was tight and a few others but I suppose they are so fit their recovery is fairly quick so nothing too contrary.

“Tom’s (Cunniffe) Achilles, it’s an injury that obviously the more you play it keeps flaring up. So that needs a good bit of rest so we will just try and manage Tom through it.

“Tom was back training last night and we’ve training every weekend so he will be another competitive option for us. Chris Barrett is doing well, he done well for his club at the weekend and he’s getting stronger and stronger every day.”

Meanwhile, Galway manager Alan Mulholland has received a double boost ahead of Saturday’s All-Ireland qualifier against Tipperary with corner-backs Joss Moore and Keith Kelly being declared fit for action.

Both players came through training this week without any problems having missed the Connacht final defeat to Mayo through injury.


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