Monday 18 December 2017

O'Connor clan determined to go one better for Wexford

Wexford's Jack O’Connor. Photo: Sportsfile
Wexford's Jack O’Connor. Photo: Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

It's been a big week for the famous O'Connor clan from the St Martin's club in Wexford.

Back in 1996, John and George O'Connor helped Wexford to an All-Ireland title and with hurling in the county on the rise again, the family is well represented once more.

Last Sunday, John's son Jack lined out for the Wexford seniors as they went down to Galway in the Leinster final. And tonight, two of Jack's brothers will hope to go one better as Harry and Rory line out for the county's U-21 side in their provincial decider with Kilkenny.

Harry was part of the Wexford panel that lost to Limerick in the 2014 All-Ireland U-21 final, while Rory is just finished his Leaving Cert but is already on the fringes of Davy Fitzgerald's senior set-up. And with two Leinster finals in four days, it means these are heady times for the O'Connors.

"In most households there are never two Leinster finals in the one week," smiles Harry O'Connor, who has another cousin Joe O'Connor in with the U-21s.

"With three (brothers) playing as well it is exciting times but we are well used to playing games together but it is just another game really, there is no pressure."

Wexford go into tonight's Bord Gáis Energy-sponsored final as underdogs but have a Kilkenny native at the helm in Glenmore's Tom Mullally who in the past guided Carlow outfit Mount Leinster Rangers to an All-Ireland club hurling final.

"He's very good to work under and is very organised. He's not going to be familiar with every young lad in Wexford but he picks on form and picks the players who are playing well and that's the fairest way to do it. I completely agree with it."

Kilkenny reached this final by seeing off Westmeath who dumped them out of the competition 12 months ago. Alan Murphy top-scored for the Cats that night with 1-8 but he is a versatile sort having featured both as sub goalkeeper and as an outfield player for Brian Cody's senior side in this year's league. Murphy's older brother Eoin is first-choice 'keeper for Cody, and he has another brother Shane who previously kept goal for the Kilkenny minors. But he insists that double-jobbing isn't as difficult as it might seem.

"I suppose it's weird enough, there's three of us there (with the seniors). Myself, Eoin and Richie Reid and we all play outfield for our own clubs. It's weird but it's second nature at this stage. We are well used to it and it's no surprise. You know you are kind of there for the two jobs so you just get on with it. It might seem strange to someone on the outside but it doesn't bother us."

And while his side are favourites, Murphy insists that having played with the likes of Cathal Dunbar in a Wexford combined colleges side, he won't be underestimating them.

"You never really run into a bad Wexford team. Especially at U-21 level in the last few years they've been very good," he adds.

Subscribe to The Throw-In,'s weekly Championship podcast, for the best in GAA discussion and analysis every Monday, with some of the biggest names in football and hurling from Joe Brolly, Tomás Ó'Sé, Brendan Cummins and John Mullane.

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