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Dublin: 3 °C Tuesday 21 May, 2019
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'I couldn't be happier': Ireland goalkeeper O'Malley satisfied with FA Cup penalty heroics

Conor O’Malley saved three penalties against Bradford to book Peterborough’s place in the FA Cup third round.

IT WAS A night to remember for Conor O’Malley on Tuesday night, as the promising young Ireland goalkeeper produced three brilliant penalty saves to help Peterborough into the third round of the FA Cup.

The Mayo man has found first-team minutes hard to come by since moving from League of Ireland side St Patrick’s Athletic in August 2017, but yesterday’s display will give manager Steve Evans plenty food for thought.

download The Westport goalkeeper joined Peterborough in August 2017.

Following a chaotic 4-4 draw after 120 minutes against Bradford at Valley Parade, a shootout was needed to decide who would progress and face Middlesborough.

O’Malley stood the test, showing strength of character to make three penalty saves from Karl Henry, Jack Payne and Paul Caddis to book his side’s passage through to the third round.

I felt I had to make up for the game, because my [performance] wasn’t the best. But to save three penalties is a great feeling and to get through to the next round — I couldn’t be happier,” he said.

The goalkeeper played minor gaelic football for Mayo during his youth but earned a €100,000 move to Peterborough just over a year ago following three stellar seasons with St Pat’s saw him recognised as one of the best shot-stoppers in domestic Irish football.

The 24-year-old Westport native received his first international call-up earlier this year, being named in Martin O’Neill’s squad for friendlies against France and the USA, with the player admitting that he had to delay college exams to link-up with the squad.

Source: Peterborough United Football Club/YouTube

Having completed a mathematics degree at Maynooth University during his time in the League of Ireland, he is studying to become a financial analyst — in an interview last year explaining the importance of combining education with football.

After his display in the FA Cup on Tuesday, O’Malley said he felt a need to make amends for a disappointing display against Bradford, coming up trumps in the shoot-out to show his strength of character.

“Winning on penalties is probably the best feeling in football, unless it’s a last-minute winner maybe,” he said. “But especially after the game where we conceded so many sloppy goals and didn’t take our chances either, so it’s nice to put it to bed. 

“My decision-making wasn’t up to where it normally is. Normally I’m good at sweeping and that, but I made a few stupid decisions. My handling was alright and I was happy enough in the main, but it was just a few moments of madness.”

Conor O'Malley comes on for Colin Doyle The 24-year-old came on against Celtic for Scott Brown's testimonial in May. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

He admitted that he had found this season difficult in parts. O’Malley made nine starts in League One last season, but has not been named in manager Evans’ starting XI for a league fixture so far this campaign.

“It’s been tough, to be honest. But it’s good to get a win and we just have to keep going forward.  We won last week and then — not the game tonight — but we won the penalties at least.

“So I can go into next week hopefully pushing for another place in the starting lineup. I just want to get as many games as I can.”

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Aaron Gallagher

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