It was right at the start of James Horan’s first tenure as Mayo manager that a teenage Cillian O’Connor was first given his chance playing at senior level for the county. Eight years on, the Ballintubber man – who captained the county team during Stephen Rochford’s reign – is set to be sidelined for the beginning of James Horan’s second coming, as he’s just undergone knee surgery.
The news was confirmed by Mayo GAA yesterday – here. The brief statement says that the surgery happened recently and that it’s hoped that the county’s all-time leading scorer will be back in action “in the coming weeks.”
How long that’ll be remains unclear. Obviously, Cillian wouldn’t have wanted to undergo the procedure until Ballintubber’s club championship run was over so it’s understandable that the surgery didn’t happen earlier than it has.
The fact that he’s now had it done and is in rehab means that Cillian is likely to miss at least a few rounds of the League next year. While it’d be good to have him back for as much of the spring campaign as possible, it’s clearly way more important to have him fit and ready for action next summer.
At the recent Mayo GAA lunch in the Shelbourne, James Horan spoke about the year ahead as a season with three fairly distinct phases, hinting that different players may need to be deployed by us at different times of the year. As Cillian has proven in spades down the years, he’s one of our key men when the stakes are highest so getting him back for the summer has to be the priority. The timetable for his return to action will, no doubt, be with this in mind.
Here’s hoping Cillian’s recovery goes smoothly and that he’s back chomping at the bit again before too long. I thought he looked hungrier and sharper in this year’s club championship than he’d looked for a while and so, with the knee sorted, it’d be great to see him back with all guns blazing as we head towards the serious stuff next year.
In other news, Connacht GAA yesterday issued the full 2019 championship fixture list for Senior, Junior, U20 and U17 levels – that’s here (pdf). The time and date for our preliminary round FBD League match against Leitrim was also confirmed yesterday. That’ll take place at Páirc Seán MacDiarmada in Carrick-on-Shannon on Sunday, 6th January, where throw-in will be at the early time of 1.30pm.
By the way, Rob and I already have that one in the diary to throw the ball in on our 2019 Mayo News football podcast coverage. I’m sure it’s a date that’s in the diary for plenty of the rest of you too.