‘He is flying. He is a real leader up there’ – Mayo boss hails scoring star O’Connor

5-20 POSTED ON the scoreboard, a display that contained several impressive facets and an All-Ireland final spot secured.

It’s the third time James Horan has steered Mayo towards a decider and even on a freezing December evening, that outcome left him highly satisfied.

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And the form of one player was especially noteworthy. Cillian O’Connor’s stunning scoring show yielded 4-9 for the Connacht champons today as they swept past Tipperary.

“Ah, he’s been playing very well,” stated his manager.

“All year he’s been sharp. His body is in great shape. He is flying. He is a real leader up there and obviously delighted with how he is playing.

“He’s really really sharp for sure.

“Winning an All-Ireland semi-final comprehensively is not to be sniffed at. I thought the pressure we put on maybe after about five or six minutes of the first half, particularly up front, was very good.

“That gave us a platform for being able to keep pressure on them. We won a huge amount of turnovers in the first half and that was the platform for the victory really. It got us in the lead and we just saw it out from there.”

Mayo had put this game to bed by half-time. The second half was an odd affair as Tipperary poured forward at will, bagged a couple of goals and could easily have cracked home a few more. It was a theme of the game with Mayo prised apart early on for scoring chances as well.

“They were very poor from our point of view, those high balls in, but even the goal they got was a terrible goal to give away from our point of view,” admitted Horan.

“So we’ll look at that for sure. In the second half as well, the game was gone and maybe we got a little bit lackadaisical for a while and gave away a few goal chances. We’ve a huge amount defensively I think that we’ll have a look at, try tighten up a little bit. I’m pretty sure we can do that though.”

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Mayo boss James Horan.

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Horan was glad to see his full panel present at Croke Park for the game and would like to see the families of players be permitted to attend the final on 19 December.

“It’s a bit weird they can’t even come down and really talk to us, but it’s great to have them there. Coming into an All-Ireland final it would be great if each player could bring five of their family members or something like that as well.

“I think it can be managed when you look at the size of the stadium, why can’t that be the case? I think it would be great if we could do that for an All-Ireland final if logic prevails, so hopefully it will.

“The second half was difficult, it (the fog) came down very heavy, I thought. I was worried at one stage when we were (ahead) 10 points or something that it would be called off. But thankfully it was okay.”

Horan revealed that defender Eoghan McLaughlin had ‘jarred his knee a little’ but he didn’t think it was a serious injury. Fionn McDonagh, Mark Moran and Brian Walsh all ‘have slight knocks’ which resulted in them not making the 26-man panel for this game.

Attention now turns to the decider with familiar foes as they attempt to reverse Mayo’s chain of setbacks since 2012 against Dublin.

“We haven’t looked too far behind at anything, and a lot of the younger players that have come through couldn’t give two continentals about what has gone on in the past, which is great in one way.

“For sure, a lot of the players we would have played against before. You used that experience for sure. Look it, Dublin are the most successful team in the history of the GAA. You can’t miss that fact. Sport is funny and we’ll do our thing and we’ll see what we can do.”

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