Monday 24 October 2016

I'd love another crack at Jack ...

Diarmuid O'Connor (SPORTSFILE)
Diarmuid O'Connor (SPORTSFILE)

Diarmuid O'Connor can't wait to renew head-to-head battle with Footballer of the Year Jack McCaffrey - injury permitting.

Mayo host Dublin in the Allianz Football League on February 6, with O'Connor hoping that a niggling hamstring problem will have fully cleared by then.

That would facilitate a potential reprise of last year's All-Ireland semi-final draw and replay, when this lung-busting duo were in direct combat.

While Dublin eventually prevailed and McCaffrey's stellar season was crowned by the game's top individual plaudit, O'Connor tested his defensive mettle to the full ... cue his selection as Young Footballer of the Year, an honour previously claimed by his elder brother Cillian (twice) and by McCaffrey (in 2013).

Diarmuid, renowned for his big engine, insisted: "You need more than that engine to stay going with Jack. He is a great player, t was a good experience and I will see how I can use it this year.


"You can't take your eyes off him," the 21-year-old added. "If you do, he could be down the other end of the pitch in a couple of seconds. It is the same with any other wing-back in the country, you are trying to put them on the back foot ... we had a great battle and I am looking forward to coming up against him in the league."

James Horan handed O'Connor his SFC debut in 2014 but he came of age last summer under Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly, whose brief reign was then cut short by a player coup.

"I had a good year personally, but I would give up any individual awards to get the All-Ireland. With new management (led by Stephen Rochford) and new lads coming in, it is a clean slate again and you can't get comfortable at all," he pointed out.

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