O'Connor: ready for Bord Gáis Energy Leinster U21 final. Ramsey Cardy/SPORTSFILE
Brothers in Arms

'In most households there are never two Leinster finals in the one week'

Harry O’Connor and his brothers are getting used to challenging for provincial honours with Wexford.

THE O’CONNOR FAMILY couldn’t afford to dwell on Sunday’s disappointment for too long. After all, they had a Leinster final to be getting ready for.

Another one.

“In most households there are never two Leinster finals in the one week,” Harry O’Connor points out.

Croke Park turned purple and gold on Sunday as more than 30,000 Wexford fans came to see if their county could end 13 years in the wilderness of Leinster hurling and lift the senior provincial crown. Instead, the day belonged to those in maroon, Galway running out nine-point winners to rubberstamp their own All-Ireland credentials.

Jack, the oldest of John O’Connor’s boys, started at wing-forward, his younger brother Rory – fresh from doing his Leaving Cert just a few weeks ago – an unused sub on the bench.

Harry watched on, not involved himself, but with one eye on Wednesday evening’s trip to Nowlan Park and a Leinster U21 hurling final against Kilkenny.

“With three playing as well it is exciting times,” he says, “but we are well used to playing games together. It is just another game really. There is no pressure. We are all easy-going about it.”

Jack is two years out of U21 now, three Leinster championship medals in his pocket after an utterly dominant run at the grade from 2013 to 2015.

But the 2014 and 2015 campaigns both ended in the agony of All-Ireland final defeats at the hands of Clare and Limerick, and now Jack’s little brothers are hoping to do something that he couldn’t.

Harry and Rory will likely start in the half-forwards against Kilkenny, a game for which Tom Mullally’s men are the underdogs, and they know that their strong track record of recent years will count for little once they’re out on the pitch.

“There’s always belief there at the start of the year if you are training hard and putting in the work, but our thing has been always to take one game at time,” O’Connor says.

“That’s something Tom Mullally has always drilled into us. We have no right to be complacent off the back of last year when we lost to Dublin although we have had success before that.

“I suppose having lost last year, the way we are looking at it is to take one game at a time and don’t look beyond that.”

O’Connor is quick to pay to pay tribute to the Kilkenny man in their corner, Mullally, who took over from JJ Doyle ahead of this campaign.

“He’s very good to work under and is very organised. He’s not going to be familiar with every young lad in Wexford but he picks on form and picks the players who are playing well. That’s the fairest way to do it and I completely agree with it.

“He makes sure everyone is working hard and has their head screwed on and is down to earth. He keeps us all grounded and in terms of managers, he is probably one of the best I have worked with.

“Technically he is very good too. He has a great hurling mind and is a great coach and manager. He can do both, not just manage the team, but do drills as well.”

Wednesday’s final, and a Kilkenny team that dethroned defending champions Dublin, hold no fear.

“As a hurler it’s the main event,” O’Connor adds. “It is what you aspire to be at.

“It’s probably one of the biggest games you’re going to play really and they are the days that are most enjoyable. That’s why we play.”

‘He is the ultimate professional. He has a grá for this job. He has a grá for the county’