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Dublin: 12 °C Wednesday 22 May, 2019

Hogan Cup football final in Croke Park in April to Wexford senior hurling debut in July

Teenager Rory O’Connor caught the eye yesterday in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

pjimage Rory O'Connor in action for St Peter's College and the Wexford hurlers. Source: INPHO

FROM AN ALL-Ireland schools football final in Croke Park in April to a championship debut with the Wexford senior hurlers in Páirc Uí Chaoimh in July.

Wexford’s 2017 campaign may have drawn to a close yesterday but they did unleash a terrific new senior prospect in teenager Rory O’Connor, who was hugely impressive on his debut.

O’Connor only recently completed his Leaving Cert exams – which restricted his involvement with the Wexford senior squad – and was part of the St Peter’s side that contested the Hogan Cup final in Croke Park three months ago.

Rory O'Connor and Michael Potts Rory O'Connor against St Brendan's Michael Potts Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

St Peter’s lost out to Kerry champions St Brendan’s (Killarney) but O’Connor was key to their progress and smashed home a brilliant goal in the semi-final win over Derry’s St Pat’s Magherafelt.

Source: officialgaa/YouTube

O’Connor was in action for Wexford earlier this month in the Bord Gáis Energy Leinster U21 hurling final and scored 0-2 in that defeat to Kilkenny.

He was pushed into action yesterday against Waterford and produced a dynamic display at midfield.

“Look at young Rory O’Connor today,” remarked Davy Fitzgerald after the game.

Davy Fitzgerald speaks to his team before the game Davy Fitzgerald and his Wexford players - Rory O'Connor (22). Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“We probably kept the team a long time. The reason is you’ve a young fella of 18 and I wanted to give him every chance possible not to be kind of picked upon and no one was expecting.

“To see a young 18-year-old doing that, he had some unreal great moments he had between hits and scores. He was really good.”

O’Connor showcased his capabilities from the start. He did excellently to set up Eoin Moore for a 4th minute Wexford point and also made a brilliant run before offloading to Diarmuid O’Keeffe for a 57th minute Wexford point.

Straight after the interval O’Connor split the posts for a point himself and was frequently involved in the midfield play.

There’s a rich hurling tradition in O’Connor’s family. Older brother Jack came off the bench to score 1-2 yesterday and his other brother Harry captained the Wexford U21′s this season.

Jack O'Connor with Maurice Shanahan Wexford's Jack O'Connor and Waterford's Maurice Shanahan Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Rory’s father John and uncle George were both part of Wexford’s Liam MacCarthy Cup triumph in 1996, while his cousins Barry, Joe and Patrick are all central to the hurling fortunes of their club St Martin’s.

John O'Connor Wexford Hurling 20/08/1996 Wexford 1996 All-Ireland senior winner John O'Connor Source: Matt Browne/INPHO

Last July, Rory chipped in with 0-5 in Wexford’s Leinster minor final to Dublin and twelve months on, he fitted seamlessly into the starting senior side.

Donnacha Ryan and Rory O'Connor Rory O'Connor in action against the Dublin defence. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Fitzgerald was pleased with how O’Connor responded to his selection.

“I was so happy. He didn’t look one bit out of place outside there. He tore into it and didn’t give a damn.”

Source: The42 GAA/SoundCloud

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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