Diarmuid O’Connor spoke of his delight for the Mayo supporters after the team ended a run of nine straight Croke Park final defeats against Kerry on Sunday.
The Mayo captain was in inspirational form for James Horan’s side en route to defeating Kerry for the second time this season, admitting it was great to get some silverware after four years without a trophy.
“It’s unbelievable, not going to lie, it’s not very often that we’ve won silverware up here so for the fans especially I’m delighted, it’s great to see all them and just see my family after the game and just getting to celebrate the match, it’s been too long since we’ve been celebrating any silverware.
“Connacht Championship now is four years ago so it’s too long for these supporters so hopefully, that’s not the last time we’re celebrating this year.”
Kerry led Mayo by four points at the half time break thanks to first half goals from Gavin Crowley and Stephen O’Brien.
However, Mayo recovered in the second half with three goals of their own through Matthew Ruane, O’Connor and then Ciaran Treacy at the death. Captain O’Connor put their comeback down to cutting out some basic errors and making sure that the final pass was accurate.
“It’s more frustration that we weren’t executing our own gameplan as well as we could have. We did a few things right but just a few basic errors were letting us down, a few handpasses and kick passes were going astray and we just talked about two or three key areas were we just tweaked a small bit were we need to get right.
“They were probably winning their own kick-out a bit too handy in the first half and winning it too far up the pitch so we just tweaked a few things and yeah I think we did very well with them in the second half and that’s the reason we won the game.
“We tried to move it quickly in the first half as I said, it was just our handpassing and kick passing was a small bit off but we knew it was coming, I think we created a couple of goal chances in the first half, just the final pass there didn’t come off, so we knew we’d get the chance again in the second half so we just had to execute the basic skills a bit better and thankfully we did.”
James Horan’s decision to grant O’Connor the captaincy in 2019 was an inspired decision and the Ballintubber man proved that with his performance yesterday, picking up the Man of the Match award.
He admitted it was a huge honour to be captain but reiterated that he’s just one of many leaders in this Mayo side.
“It’s a huge honour, delighted to be captain of such a great bunch but has anything changed not really just focusing on my own game, what I do off the pitch, just been trying to nail that more so than anything else.
“To be honest, everyone is a leader on the pitch and if you are in the dressing room before the game or at half time you wouldn’t even have noticed who the captain was and it showed on the pitch, they are all leaders there 1-26.”
It had been somewhat of an indifferent league campaign for Mayo following back-to-back defeats to rivals Dublin and Galway after winning three wins in a row, to begin with.
However, they are league champions now and while O’Connor said it felt great that to win the league outright, their sights are now set firmly on the Connacht Championship.
“The first half we made a few simple errors, we just tweaked a few things then at half time then it came right in the end thankfully.
“It’s a great win, means a lot and we’ll celebrate but after today and after tonight we will just look straight ahead to the Connacht Championship.”