JAMES HORAN HAS been handed a welcome boost ahead of Mayo’s trip Stateside with the news that Cillian O’Connor and Cian Hanley made successful returns to the field over the weekend.

O’Connor has been sidelined since undergoing keyhole surgery on his knee in December which saw him miss Mayo’s entire league campaign.

The rehabilitation phase took longer than expected and Mayo’s all-time leading scorer watched on as his brother Diarmuid captained the county to a thrilling Division 1 final win over Kerry in Croke Park.

He scored a point off the bench for Ballintubber on Saturday night as they opened up the Mayo SFC with an 0-18 to 1-3 victory against Hollymount/Carramore. 

Cian Hanley – who had a similar procedure on his knee in the off-season – marked his comeback by bagging a goal in Ballaghadereen’s 2-10 to 1-12 win over Claremorris. Veteran forward Andy Moran dispatched a stoppage-time penalty to hand Ballaghadereen a dramatic late victory. 

The successful return of O’Connor and Hanley to action is a major plus for Horan as the 5 May Connacht SFC opener against New York looms in the horizon.

Elsewhere, Breaffy got their season up and running with a 1-10 to 0-7 defeat of Colm Boyle’s Davitts despite the absence of county midfielders Seamie O’Shea and Matthew Ruane.

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Aidan O’Shea and Robbie Hennelly both starred for last year’s beaten county finalists.

Paddy Durcan’s Castlebar Mitchels were held to a draw by Ballina Stephenites, while Aghamore and Lee Keegan’s Westport also finished level.

Fionn McDonagh – who enjoyed an impressive run of form in the Mayo team this spring before picking up an injury – sat out that game for Westport.

Belmullet, who had Eoin O’Donoghue and Chris Barrett in their ranks – defeated Charlestown and Kiltane saw off Moy Davitts, both by a single point, while Kevin McLoughlin’s Knockmore defeated Garrymore by four.

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