Cillian O'Connor should take heed of Ronan O'Gara's advice on missed kicks 6 years ago

Cillian O'Connor should take heed of Ronan O'Gara's advice on missed kicks

The Hill knew before most of us watching from the stands and on TV. Cillian O'Connor knew even before that.

The Mayo captain had the opportunity to drag 20 more minutes out of a contest that had compelled the nation over two games, two weeks and over 155 minutes.


A free kick some 40 metres out, given the angle, and to the left of the posts. O'Connor was confident that he could pop it over. He had levelled the final with a 77th minute point from play. This one was from his hands and he hadn't missed all day.

He missed. There was still a kick-out to contest but Dublin won it and soon won the replay. The barren spell now equals 66 years and counting in Mayo.

Cillian O’Connor reacts after missing a late free to equalise the game 1/10/2016

O'Connor has been Mayo's free-taker for the past five years. He has been stepping up and getting scores ever since he was in his early teens. One of his biggest career regrets was letting an older clubmate take, and miss, a last-minute free against Castlebar when he was just 16. That was his job and he deferred to the older boy.


Saturday's miss will plague him more. He was always going to take the kick. That he pulled his effort wide will live with him forever.

O'Connor could do a lot worse than take on-board Ronan O'Gara's advice on coping with missed kicks. The former Munster and Ireland outhalf rebounded from torrents of heart-break early in his career, including two European Cup finals, to be the go-to guy when the game was on the line. O'Gara says:

"Kickers have to prepare. You have to have a work-rate. You have to be accountable and you have to have a plan.

"People think they are working hard but they are not. They'll go at it for two days then they'll crack and get pissed off and stop. Then they'll come back the following week and go at it again. 

"Then they'll kick six out of six and take Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday off. They'll kick Thursday and Friday and kick three out of six.

"If you want to succeed, it's day-in, day-out. It's horrendous but if you want to be the best, you train like the best.

"In terms of sacrifice, do you want to go for a walk in the forest with your family of a Sunday or you want to go kicking in Musgrave Park? I know what I want to do today but back then, I wanted to go kicking balls." 

Easy, you might say, for a professional to wax lyrical about putting the hard work in. However, the same advice goes for amateurs.


Find a routine that works, pour everything into it, trust it and do it again and again.

Cillian O'Connor has a great kicking technique. He just needs to step forward next time a free is given and revel in it.

The GAA Hour pays tribute to the unbeatable Dubs and ask where did it all go wrong for Mayo in the All-Ireland final replay. Listen below or subscribe on iTunes.