Diarmuid O’Connor only turned 21 last week but the 2015 Young Footballer of the Year is adamant Mayo’s footballers don’t feel extra pressure this season to prove they were right to oust the previous management.
The 2015 panel’s disposal of Noel Connelly and Pat Holmes will likely be thrown at them should things go awry, but O’Connor contests the suggestion there is more emphasis on them to perform as a result.
“There’s always been pressure around the Mayo players the same way there is on players in every county in the country. I am not sure if there is going to be much added pressure on the players in the dressing room anyway.
“The players won’t feel it. There has always been pressure there. If you can’t deal with it you shouldn’t be there. It’s how you use that pressure and not let it overwhelm you, just use it to motivate you and drive you on.
“It was unfortunate the way things panned out. No-one ever wanted to be in a situation like that but we have moved forward and we are just focusing on this year now and seeing where we can improve for this year.”
O’Connor is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury but hopes to return to on-field training in the next week or two. Mayo’s Division 1 opener against Cork may come too soon but he expects to be available next month for the county as well as for DCU’s Sigerson Cup campaign should they beat Athlone IT at the end of this month.
Older brother Cillian isn’t so fortunate, though. “Cillian got surgery on his knee before Christmas and he’ll be out for a long part of this year. I’m not sure exactly when he’s expecting to be back. He might feature in the latter stages of the Allianz League.”
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