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Dublin: 6°C Saturday 8 May 2021

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

O’Connor has only played four games of reserve action in the VFL.

KERRY’S MARK O’CONNOR is set to make his AFL debut this weekend for Geelong Cats, capping a remarkable rise in his first season playing Aussie Rules.

Mark O'Connor lifts the cup Mark O'Connor lifts the All-Ireland minor trophy in 2015. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

O’Connor has been upgraded to the Geelong senior list for Saturday’s Round 8 game against Essendon at the MCG in Melbourne and has been named in the half-forwards.

There’ll plenty other Irish interest in that game with Zach Tuohy from Laois an established half-back for Geelong, while Tyrone’s Conor McKenna is amongst the backs for Essendon.

It’s a huge achievement for the 2015 All-Ireland minor winning captain O’Connor, who has made the jump after only four games of reserve action with Geelong’s team in the Victorian Football League.

O’Connor only made his debut for Geelong in the VFL on 16 April but the Dingle man has made rapid progress since then.

After being listed as a ‘Category B’ rookie, he has been added to the senior list after teenager Brandan Parfitt was placed on the long-term Geelong injury list.

Speaking to The42 last month, O’Connor had revealed his ‘ambitious’ target to make an AFL debut in 2017.

“It’s exciting times. I’d love to play an AFL game this year but I know that’s very ambitious. Obviously I want to learn as much as possible.

“Ultimately you’re out here to play with the best. That’s always going to be the goal. It’s something I really want to be part of.”

O’Connor signed for Geelong last October after impressing during the AFL Draft Combine and made the move to Australia full-time in November to take up a new sporting career.

He won two All-Ireland minor football medals with Kerry in 2014 and 2015, along with Hogan Cup honours with his school PS Chorca Dhuibhne in both those years.

Source: The42 GAA/SoundCloud

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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