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3 Australian Rules clubs in the race to sign up Kerry's 2015 All-Ireland minor winning captain

Mark O’Connor is wanted after a recent trial in Melbourne.

Mark O'Connor lifts the cup Mark O'Connor lifts the Tom Markham Cup in 2015. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

THREE AUSTRALIAN RULES clubs are in the race to sign the highly-rated young Kerry footballer Mark O’Connor.

The 19 year-old is regarded as one of the best prospects in Kerry after bursting to prominence with his exploits for the county minor side and at schools level with PS Chorca Dhuibhne.

After a recent spell in Melbourne having trials with clubs, the AFL’s official website has reported that O’Connor’s signature is coveted by the Geelong, North Melbourne and Melbourne clubs.

O’Connor also had trials with Essendon and Carlton during his two-week stay before returning to Ireland. He is now set to consider his options and is eligible to be signed as a Category B rookie.

Mark O'Connor and Danny Owens Mark O'Connor outfields Danny Owens in the 2015 All-Ireland minor final Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The Dingle native impressed at the NAB AFL Draft Combine, particularly in finishing fourth overall in the 3km time trial with a time of 9.56.

“I do want to pursue an AFL career. It’s definitely something I want to do. It’s hard work but it’s just so rewarding,” O’Connor told the AFL website.

“At home it’s all amateur sport and there’s no professionals in the game at all. To be able to spend all of my time trying to improve my game is something that I’d like.

“I’ll go back home and talk to my parents and talk things through and see what’s on the table.”

Conor Geaney, Mark O'Connor and Tom O'Sullivan celebrate Mark O'Connor (centre) celebrating Kerry's 2015 All-Ireland minor win with clubmates Conor Geaney and Tom O'Sullivan Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Yesterday O’Connor’s club Dingle lost the Kerry senior football semi-final against Dr Crokes by 1-15 to 0-15. Named at number 29 on the match programme, he did not see action during the game at Fitzgerald Stadium.

O’Connor captained Kerry to last year’s All-Ireland minor football title and was also the man-of-the-match winner in that final success. In 2014 he won an All-Ireland minor medal when Kerry defeated Donegal in the final.

In both 2014 and 2015, he won Hogan Cup medals in Croke Park with the Dingle-based school PS Chorca Dhuibhne and was also awarded the man-of-the-match award in both those deciders.

Marc O'Conchuir and Brian O'Beaglaoich lift the trophy Mark O'Connor (left) and Brian O Beaglaoich lifting the Hogan Cup in 2015 Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

This year O’Connor played in the Munster U21 football final in April for Kerry and scored a goal in their defeat to Cork, while he was part of the extended Kerry senior panel this summer.

After being invited to an Aussie Rules trial event in Ireland by Tadhg Kennelly, the way was paved for O’Connor to head to Australia for further trials.

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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