‘If Cillian O’Connor is not available, I can’t see how Mayo are going to replace a player of that calibre’

WEDNESDAY’S NEWS THAT Cillian O’Connor will undergo surgery to repair his Achilles tendon dealt a hammer blow to Mayo’s All-Ireland hopes.

The Ballintubber star posted 1-4 before he was forced off against Clare last weekend and although the exact nature of the injury has not been made public, it’s highly unlikely he’ll play any part in the remainder of the 2021 season.

Speaking on this week’s episode of The42 GAA Weekly, Kerry legend Marc Ó Sé said Dublin are the only side who could handle an injury to such a key player.

“For me, Dublin are the only team in the country that can deal with injuries,” he said.

“If you take Jack McCaffrey, he went last year and Robbie McDaid comes in – he had an unbelievable year. [Stephen] Cluxton is out at the moment, it’s no big deal, Evan Comerford is doing the job.

“You see Dean Rock out, that’s okay Cormac Costello can come in and he can be top scorer. So they can afford to lose players of that calibre and still replace them.

“For Mayo, unfortunately if Cillian O”Connor is not available to them, I can’t see how they’re going to replace a player of that calibre. Every other county in Ireland with the exception of Dublin is in the exact same bracket.”

Ó Sé says O’Connor offers far more than just his contribution to the scoreboard.

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“In terms of the work-rate he does, even off the ball. I remember games playing against him and you’d never bring the ball into contact with him. He’s so strong, he’ll rip that ball off you. He reminds me of the likes of Johnny Crowley with Kerry back in the day. He just had the physicality, that’s huge.

“Just at the time where their players are coming back, the likes of Aidan O’Shea and Colm Boyle coming back from a serious injury last year, and to be fair young Tommy Conroy has stepped up. James Horan has invested in youth, he’s given youth a chance.

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“But when you have fellas coming into a team, you need to have those seasoned, experienced campaigners to bring them along. Cillian O’Connor, if he’s gone for Mayo, you have to say their chances of getting to the latter stages of the championship have taken a huge it.”

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