Saturday 3 December 2016

Promising Kerry star Mark O'Connor signs international rookie contract with AFL club Geelong

Published 18/10/2016 | 14:11

Kerry's Mark O'Connor celebrates with the cup after winning last year's All-Ireland minor title
Kerry's Mark O'Connor celebrates with the cup after winning last year's All-Ireland minor title

Rising Kerry football star Mark O'Connor has signed an international rookie contract with AFL club Geelong.

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O'Connor, one of the pillars behind Kerry's 2014 and 2015 All-Ireland minor triumphs under Jack O'Connor and a member of the Hogan Cup winning Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne, had been tipped for big things with the Kingdom in the years ahead.

But after three clubs expressed interest in him in recent months following his results in the International Combine last year and impressive trials earlier this month, he has agreed to sign with Geelong.

“I’ve made the decision to go to Geelong.  It’s a very quiet place, like Dingle, and I was very comfortable there.  I was really taken with Geelong. When I went in there everyone was very friendly, and I felt at home there,” he told Radio na Gaeltachta's An Shaol o Dheas this morning.

O'Connor, from Dingle, intends making the move in the coming weeks.

“I want to go over as soon as possible. The other players won’t be coming until the end of the month, so I’ll have a few weeks on my own to work on my skills.”

“It will be a different challenge. I’ve been playing football since I was 6 or 7. It’s attractive to stay here too (to play football for Kerry), that’s why the decision was so hard.

"I want a different experience, and maybe a little bit of travelling, I suppose I was looking for something different.”

The Kerry management team wished him all the best, and stressed that they were very happy for him on a personal level, he said.

“They were very happy to hear about it on a personal level, but with their Kerry caps on they weren’t as happy. 

"I thanked them for all their help. It was a bit mixed I suppose. They were very happy for me personally, but as managers and players they weren’t as happy .They (Éamonn Fitzmaurice and Jack O’Connor) didn’t put any pressure on me to stay, they said it was my own decision.”

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