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New call-up Conor O'Malley puts summer exams on hold for Ireland friendlies

25 May 2018; Conor O'Malley during a Republic of Ireland squad training session at the FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
25 May 2018; Conor O'Malley during a Republic of Ireland squad training session at the FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Damian Spellman

Conor O'Malley is not a man for making up the numbers.

The 23-year-old Peterborough goalkeeper has been drafted into the Republic of Ireland squad for their friendlies against France and the United States, with senior men Darren Randolph, Rob Elliot and Keiren Westwood all injured.

Bradford's Colin Doyle is likely to get the nod in Paris on Monday evening to win his third cap, having collected his second in Turkey in March almost 11 years after his first, but any involvement for O'Malley would represent a new chapter in a remarkable story.

He headed for English football last summer, having graduated in mathematics from Maynooth University, where he was able to combine his studies with playing for St Patrick's Athletic under a scholarship scheme.

O'Malley said: "It's nice to have it there and know that once I finish playing football, I'll be able to go and get a good job.

"I'm doing my CFA [Chartered Financial Analyst] exams at the moment to be a financial analyst - it was to be on June 23, so this has ruined that exam for me this year, but I might sit it next year.

"It's just nice to have that security that when you finish. If anything happens to finish your career suddenly, there's something there that you can go and do and still have a decent lifestyle."

The offer from Peterborough came at the right time after O'Malley decided to see if he could make it in football before embarking on a career in finance, and he admits he may have taken a wrong turn had it arrived any earlier.

He said: "If I'd had the offer when I was in college, I might have made a rash decision and left, so I'm happy I didn't, that I got the opportunity to finish my degree and go over at the right time."

O'Malley pulled on the Irish jersey for the first time when he replaced Doyle in last Sunday's testimonial for Celtic skipper Scott Brown, and is now hoping to go a step further, despite struggling to process recent developments.

He said: "Even a couple of weeks ago, I didn't think this was going to be happening. It was nice to be involved in training with all of the players that you were looking at at the Euros (in 2016), nice to train with them, play with them, see what it's all about.

"These chances don't come along too often. Once you get your chance, you have to take it. You have to come in and believe that you are good enough to stay there."

Press Association

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