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Different Codes But The Same Buzz: O'Connor And Horgan Relish Being Free Takers

Different Codes But The Same Buzz: O'Connor And Horgan Relish Being Free Takers
By PJ Browne Updated

Cillian O'Connor and Patrick Horgan have plenty in common. They're both inter-county players, though in different codes. They both usually don the number 14 jersey for their counties. They also both relish being free takers.

"I started taking them when I was 16 or 17 for the club. It wasn't all the way up," said O'Connor.

"I do, I like the responsibility of it. That, you know, there's no-one who can affect it now only me. There's a certain pressure that comes with that.

"Obviously some days it goes well and some days it goes badly, but as long as I have the work done then I'm comfortable kicking it.

"If I've been out injured and I haven't done any practice and then I'm taking one, that's when you're uncomfortable. If you've the practice done then it's a nice feeling because the team are placing their trust in you.

Late in last year's All-Ireland final against Dublin, it was Groundhog Day for O'Connor. For consecutive All-Ireland finals, he missed a crucial free late in the game.

While stepping up to take one for his club Ballintubber, 2017's miss ran through his head, though, it was an ephemeral thought.

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I took a few for the club in different games. I think the first time I took to the field afterwards it was a league game and the first free actually I remember thinking, 'This is the first free I've taken since.'

That did run through my head alright. I hit that well and then that was it. I parked it and moved on after that.

O'Connor is part of a small group within the Mayo panel which practices frees. "Everything now has to be monitored now that you don't do too much," he discloses.

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In contrast, come the summer, Patrick Horgan heads down to the Glen Rovers pitch virtually every night to hone his responsibility.

"Any nice evening I’d be down the Glen club for two or two-and-a-half hours a night.

"All my buddies would be there as well. Sure, we’d have nothing else to do. Hurling’s all we do and we enjoy it. We’re just there chatting every night, pucking, competitions, all that kind of stuff.

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Like O'Connor, Horgan too loves the pressure.

I think the more pressure that’s on you, the more concentration you give it and there’s a good buzz off it. It’s just good, if there is pressure on you, what can you do with it? Are you up to it or not?

The application of a routine - beyond simply placing the ball and holding the same stance - is not something in which Horgan believes.

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"If you’re so caught up in a routine and something in that routine doesn’t happen, what does that mean? Do you automatically miss?

"I just try to go by feel the whole time, whatever I feel at the time. I have a routine in that I put it down, I stand a certain way all the time, obviously, more or less.

"I wouldn’t be pulling up my sock before or flicking a ball before. A lot of fellas do that, flick it up off their boot. Something like that, it’s just too much to think about.

Match Night Live on eir sport - Mayo captain Cillian O’Connor, Tiernan McCann of Tyrone, Cork forward Patrick Horgan and Wexford’s Lee Chin were in Dublin as eir sport today announced details of its live coverage of the forthcoming Allianz Leagues which will see 17 games broadcast across seven weekends. eir sport, the home of Saturday night Allianz Leagues action, will feature 17 different counties over the course of its coverage.

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See Also: Lee Chin Doesn't Have A Job And That's Fine By Him

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