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Geelong Cats debutant Mark O'Connor
Geelong Cats debutant Mark O'Connor

'It's extremely overwhelming' - Surprise for Kerry youngster at Aussie Rules breakthrough

Mark O’Connor will make his bow at the MCG on Saturday.
May 11th 2017, 5:00 PM 27,408 5

KERRY’S MARK O’CONNOR was caught by surprise when told that he was set to make his AFL debut for Geelong this Saturday, after playing just six Aussie Rules games.

O’Connor has made rapid progress in a sport that he only started playing full-time when moving to Australia last November.

Now the 2015 All-Ireland minor winning captain has been named at half-forward for Saturday’s Round 8 AFL game against Essendon at the MCG in Melbourne.

But he didn’t think Geelong coach Chris Scott was serious when the news was broken to him.

“It was just sprung upon me this week,” O’Connor told the Geelong club website.

“I wasn’t even sure if he was being serious to be honest. I was doing a bit of hand-balling this morning with Corey Enright and he told me that Chris Scott wanted to do some edits with me.

“I rocked into the room and he pretty much just told me that I’d be playing at the weekend. I kind of laughed it off and then he said that he was serious!”

O’Connor’s parents and brothers flew out to Geelong last month to see the Dingle native make his VFL debut for the club’s reserve side.

They wont make it over for his AFL debut with O’Connor ringing home in the early hours of this morning to share the good news.

“They can’t make it over unfortunately. I rang them at five o’clock this morning back home.

“He (O’Connor’s father) was a bit groggy when he answered but when I told him the news, he was pretty up and about.

“It’s unfortunate that they can’t make it over but hopefully there’ll be plenty more opportunities.”

O’Connor had targeted an AFL debut in his first season but admitted to The42 last month that target was ‘very ambitious’.

However after just six games – two pre season and four in the VFL – he is now set to make his debut on the biggest stage in Aussie Rules.

“It’s extremely overwhelming,” stated O’Connor today.

“It was quite unexpected to be honest. I didn’t expect to make the jump so quickly and I’m very happy to have done so.

“I never expected it to be so soon. I was kind of hoping that I would do it this year and I thought I was pushing it at that. To get the shout this early on, I’m thrilled.


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“It’s just pretty much to play my role and give it my all and be a good team-mate to everyone else and that’s what I plan on doing.”

O’Connor paid tribute to Tadgh Kennelly for his role in assisting him in the transition from Gaelic football to Aussie Rules and how he was inspired by the impact by Dublin’s Jim Stynes.

“I read  Jim Stynes book and I’ve heard a lot about Jim Stynes back home, even when I was a young fella. I saw his documentary as well and he’s a very inspiring character.

“Tadgh Kennelly of course, he’s responsible for ultimately bringing me over to Australia so he was a big idol of mine. I really respected what he did and hopefully I can try and emulate something similar to those guys.”

Source: The42 GAA/SoundCloud

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Kerry’s Mark O’Connor set to make AFL debut on Saturday after stunning progress with Geelong

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