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26th Jun 2021

Mayo may have unearthed Cillian O’Connor’s replacement after exciting Sligo performance

Lee Costello

Slig0 0-12  3-23 Mayo

It was one-way traffic in the Connacht Championship opener, as Mayo dismantled Sligo to progress to the next round.

With Cillian O’Connor out for the season due to an Achilles injury, the big question in May was ‘how are they going to replace the sharp shooter?’

Not only is O’Connor the top scorer in championship history, he hit an incredible 5-40 last season – and it wasn’t just against the lesser counties – as he kept his scoring average against the seemingly impenetrable Dublin.

Captain Aidan O’Shea certainly stepped up to the challenge, scoring an impressive 2-2 from full-forward. His first goal was also the first time he found the back of the net in a championship game in five years, so Mayo fans will be delighted to see him getting off the mark in the opening match.

Although it was O’Shea who nabbed the Man of the Match award, it was debutant Darren McHale who will give the Yew county reason to be excited.

Starting at centre-half forward, the Knockmore native couldn’t have asked for a better start to the senior county game. He even found the back of the net, reacting the quickest to a rebounded shot, meaning that he ended the game with an impressive 1-5.

It was his creative play that also caught viewers’ eyes, tracking back and playing a vital role in the running machine that is the Mayo game plan, setting up scores with impressive vision and technique.

Obviously he has a long way to go before he can even be compared to one leg of Cillian O’Connor, but his dream debut came at just the perfect time.

Sometimes when one door closes, another opens.


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