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'I've enjoyed every moment': Kilkenny teenager agrees new two-year deal with Southampton

Ireland underage international Tom O’Connor has extended his deal with the Saints.

Defender Tom O'Connor moved to St Mary's in 2015.
Defender Tom O'Connor moved to St Mary's in 2015.

KILKENNY-BORN DEFENDER Tom O’Connor has signed a new two-year deal which will keep him with Premier League side Southampton until at least June 2021.

The 19-year-old Ireland underage international moved to St Mary’s five years ago and signed his first professional contract in May 2016.

O’Connor said he now hopes to follow in the footsteps of other prospects that have developed with the club’s academy before representing the senior side — players which include Gareth Bale, Adam Lallana, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

“It feels really good,” he said after agreeing his contract extension. “I’ve been here nearly five years now, and I’ve enjoyed every moment. I’m delighted to sign a new deal and hopefully I can keep improving.

“My target was always to reach the first team. The next step is the most difficult step, but I’m working towards it.”

Fellow Irishman Michael Obafemi has made the step up from Southampton’s academy to the first team, with the Dubliner making his Ireland debut against Denmark last year and scoring his first Premier League goal in December against Huddersfield.

“Seeing all the academy graduate names on the teamsheet recently gives you a great boost and shows that the new manager really values young players,” O’Connor added.

“You know if you’re performing, and working hard, you have a chance of being noticed.”

The defender is a former schools GAA player, hitting 2-6 in a match-winning display as Good Counsel College, New Ross, retained their Masita GAA All-Ireland Post Primary Schools Paul McGirr Cup title before he moved to Southampton.

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Aaron Gallagher

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