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Dublin: 4 °C Tuesday 12 November, 2019
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Ireland U21 defender O’Connell secures loan move away from Celtic

The centre-back joins League One side Walsall.

The Saddlers beat a host of club's for O'Connell's signature.
The Saddlers beat a host of club's for O'Connell's signature.
Image: EMPICS Sport

CELTIC DEFENDER EOGHAN O’Connell has joined League One side Walsall on loan until the end of the season, subject to international clearance.

The Cork native, who had been linked with a switch to Scottish Premiership strugglers Kilmarnock, moves with the Saddlers in 14th place in the table, nine points behind Fleetwood Town in the final play-off spot.

“I’m really looking forward to getting started,” O’Connell told the club’s official website.

“I heard about the interest last week and it took perhaps a little longer to get done than we would have hoped.

“I spoke to the manager and he was really keen for me to come down, and as soon as I’d spoken to him, I was really excited to come here and be a part of it.

“Coming through at Celtic, we were always taught to play it out from the back and I like winning games – I don’t like losing.

“I played a few games for Celtic at the start of the year but I’ve not played as much recently and I wanted to get out and play.”

Walsall

The 21-year-old, who had previous loan spells with Oldham and Cork City, has played seven times for Celtic this season, including as a late substitute in the Nou Camp against Barcelona in the Champions League, but he is out of contract with the runaway Scottish Premiership leaders at the end of the season.

“Eoghan fits the bill for what we have been looking for,” Walsall manager Jon Whitney said.

“He had a lot of offers. He has had interest from League One clubs. Kilmarnock really wanted him. But he wants to come and play in England.

“All the references I have had have been really glowing. I like his size. The type of player he is. He is a defender first and foremost but he is also good on the ball.

“He has played in a back three and as a left side centre-back in a two for Celtic. Brendan Rodgers speaks highly of him.

“He only came out their team for more experienced players. He is a good kid and has got a really bright future.”

He will be joined at the West Midlands by fellow Ireland youth international Liam Kinsella, while Kevin Toner has returned to his parent club Aston Villa, after Walsall opted not to extend the Meath man’s stay.

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