Cillian O'Connor hung around MacHale Park after defeat signing autographs 1 year ago

Cillian O'Connor hung around MacHale Park after defeat signing autographs

Cillian O'Connor probably would've preferred to be anywhere else there and then.

Another defeat to Galway, personal frustration at an injury still holding him back, and the prospect of another eight games (plus imminent replays and extra time) between Mayo and the holy grail.

Leaving MacHale Park on Sunday, Cillian O'Connor and his team mates have probably never felt further from their dream as, for a third season in a row, they prepare to journey the long, unpredictable detour in search of that glowing back door.

Mayo's next game won't be televised. Their next game pits them in an open draw with the like of Cavan, with Tyrone or Monaghan, with Derry or Donegal. And, once more, Mayo have to lick the wounds inflicted by their most bitter rivals and ante up in time for ambushes left, right and centre.

You'd want to be stupid enough to write them off though. Time and again they come back from these setbacks but Sundays like last Sunday aren't made any easier by the past.

That's why it's all the more admirable to see Cillian O'Connor spending time after the game with fans young and old, taking pictures and signing jerseys.

The man is an icon out west, a hero and him sucking up his own pain and frustration made the lives of so many children from Mayo who will remember that for years.

It was another sign of the beauty of the GAA - the closeness between superstars and the community.

But this time, the superstar was hurting and still made time for everyone.

Just hope that Bernard Flynn didn't see him at this carry on. What about the bloody warm down?