Saturday 20 January 2018

Emotional O'Connor sets sights on final home fling with Connacht

Declan Rooney

Connacht flanker Johnny O'Connor is hopeful that he will recover from a troublesome ankle injury to play at least one more time for his native province.

O'Connor has been definitely ruled out of this weekend's Pro12 clash in Treviso and with just three games left after that, time is running out for the 33-year-old.

The former Irish international announced this week that he will retire when his contract runs out at the end of the season, but he is just hoping to don the Connacht shirt at least one more time.

"I am going well at the moment. I am definitely out of this weekend's game, but I am desperate to get back at some stage for a home send-off or something like that," he said.

"But there are no fairytales in rugby and unfortunately nothing is guaranteed.

"But I would love to say goodbye one more time to everyone who has supported me through-out my career.

"I have a real emotional connection with Connacht and everyone here means a great deal to me."

O'Connor (pictured) has played 145 times for Connacht and picked up a brace of Heineken Cup titles and Premiership crowns during his four-year spell with Wasps. He picked up a dozen Irish caps during his 14 years as a professional, with his debut against South Africa a career high.

"Playing for Ireland for the first time was a bit special. To play against South Africa when a few people thought that I wasn't capable of playing at that level was particularly satisfying," he said.

Starting and finishing his career with Connacht also features highly.

"It was a real pleasure to experience the Heineken Cup with my home club.

"Overall, I enjoyed my career. It was not all ups, there were a lot of downs as well as I struggled to get over injuries and to dig myself out of holes.

"At Wasps and Connacht I have missed out on a lot of things because of injuries, but the people who have helped me through those times and over my career are the ones I want to thank."

After this weekend, Connacht will conclude their season with a trip to Edinburgh and then two home games against Ulster and Glasgow.

Irish Independent

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