Daire O’Connor On Catching Mick’s Eye & Being “The Irish Messi”
There’s a sure stage of expectation that comes with being dubbed “The Irish Messi.”
Cork Metropolis midfielder Daire O’Connor is all too conscious of his new moniker; he’s heard it from each second particular person ever since Pat Dolan likened him to the mercurial Argentine earlier than the President’s Cup recreation in opposition to Dundalk.
“Each second particular person I’ve met has introduced that up!,” laughs O’Connor.
“Pay attention it by no means will get previous. In case you had been to create the very best praise you could possibly be given it’d in all probability be that so to learn that within the paper was superb.”
As unimaginable a praise as it’s, being in comparison with maybe the best footballer who ever lived, brings a couple of stress, not simply on O’Connor however on Dolan additionally.
“I learn it on the morning of the match so immediately I assumed ‘alright there’s going to be a few thousand individuals at our match afterward they usually’re going to expect a great efficiency’ as a result of as most individuals know I wasn’t actually well-known within the Premier Division circles
“So if I do effectively individuals will say he’s talking some sense but when I am going out and have a foul recreation I feel there’s extra stress on Pat Dolan than me as a result of individuals will likely be turning to him!
Messi or not, O’Connor has taken to life within the Premier Division very effectively, impressing on quite a few events as he appears to be like to make the step up after a stand-out season with UCD in final yr’s First Division.
O’Connor was included within the First Division staff of the season, as the scholars stormed to the title in extremely fashionable style.
“Yeah, it’s a step up,” O’Connor informed Match of Day.
“That UCD staff I used to be concerned with are excellent. I feel they had been in all probability above the First Division stage final yr I don’t assume individuals gave them sufficient credit score for a way good they had been, however you’re going to one of many high groups within the nation in Cork Metropolis so it was a step up in each manner each on and off the pitch.
“Much more individuals take discover of you and the overall normal of play is at a better tempo, everyone seems to be that bit quicker, that bit stronger since you’re enjoying males each week.”
Sadly for the 21-year previous, his marketing campaign hit a stumbling block simply earlier than half-time of their 2-Zero victory over Bohemians eleven days in the past.
After an excellent first 40 minutes in opposition to Keith Lengthy’s aspect, O’Connor was compelled off the sphere at Turners Cross with a dislocated shoulder, which he outlined will maintain him out for an additional 3-Four weeks.
“Yeah, I dislocated it simply earlier than half-time of the Bohs recreation, sadly. The physio popped it again inside two minutes so fortunately that diminished the harm. I’m possibly one other 3-Four weeks out offered all goes effectively with rehab.”
The damage has actually been a blow for O’Connor given the artistic spark he has offered in a Cork Metropolis aspect that had been struggling for objectives earlier within the season.
The 21-year previous’s performances for the Leesiders this marketing campaign haven’t simply caught the attention of Pat Dolan.
Irish supervisor Mick McCarthy named O’Connor because the standout participant when he went to see Cork Metropolis’s recreation with St Patrick’s Athletic final month outlining that the previous UCD midfielder “stood out” in his eyes.
O’Connor defined that he stumbled throughout McCarthy’s quotes on Twitter however feels that reward out of your worldwide supervisor is “one of many best issues you’ll be able to hear.”
“I used to be actually simply scrolling by Twitter and one thing got here up about Patrick Bamford and I clicked into it, and this was earlier than the primary headline broke, I used to be simply scrolling by this scouting report or one thing, half watching TV, half scrolling by after which I noticed my identify.
“That made me pay a bit extra consideration to the piece! By no means in 1,000,000 years would you assume you’d be namechecked like that.
“I discovered after the Pats recreation that he was there and I used to be joyful sufficient with my efficiency, however to learn what he mentioned, I screenshot it and despatched it to my dad and mom.
“On a private notice it’s one of many best issues you’ll be able to hear that your worldwide supervisor even is aware of who you’re and secondly that he thinks you’re doing effectively.
“That’s two huge inexperienced ticks for me. It’s good motivation for me to maintain going, simply the truth that he is aware of I exist is nice sufficient for me.”
Though O’Connor was not included in McCarthy’s 23 man squad for the Euro qualifiers in opposition to Gibraltar and Georgia, the 21-year previous isn’t any stranger to the worldwide setup.
O’Connor made three appearances for the Irish U19s and has gained 12 caps for the Irish School & Universities staff, calling representing his nation the “smartest thing” he’s “ever executed.”
“It was fingers down the most effective factor I’ve ever executed. In case you ask any child rising up what they wish to do they’ll say both enjoying within the Premier League or enjoying for Eire however for me it’s at all times been the latter whether or not that’s at U19s stage, faculty stage or any stage the place you’re representing your nation.
“It’s the largest honour I’ve had in my profession thus far for me and my household”
The Cork Metropolis man had a troublesome path to representing his nation, nevertheless, and outlined that he was usually neglected when he was youthful as a consequence of his bodily make-up.
“I used to be sort of neglected I suppose from u15s to u18s, I wasn’t the largest or the quickest and I hadn’t totally developed and I used to be asking my Dad or sure individuals, ‘why am I getting neglected?’ they usually simply mentioned ‘maintain at it, technically we predict you could have it you simply want extra time to develop.’
“Lots of people have in all probability been popping out and saying not too long ago that they’ve been neglected as a consequence of physicality however I used to be a main instance of that.
“All of my buddies had been going over to England of their teenage years and I used to be eager to get on that boat however my dad and mom and the individuals near me suggested me to do my Leaving Cert and if doable get a level and a few type of training after which when you hit your early 20s you could have the world at your toes to do no matter you need and that’s the path I’ve taken.”
Nonetheless simply 21 years of age, O’Connor is younger within the recreation however finds himself within the troublesome place of being too previous for the Irish U21s.
O’Connor had by no means been capped at that stage and admitted that being overage for Stephen Kenny’s thrilling younger aspect is disappointing given the variety of home gamers who’re being given an opportunity by the brand new boss.
“I’m disillusioned,” admitted O’Connor.
“It will have been nice to have been known as up.
“I don’t know if Noel King ever watched me or if he had different individuals despatched to observe me however there in all probability is a giant soar in normal from First Division to U21s in soccer, however in saying that not many League of Eire gamers had been picked earlier than anyway.
“In one of many squads, there was really solely six or seven real Irish gamers born in Eire. Clearly, he was going for the most effective gamers accessible which is totally honest.”
The younger attacking midfielder will quickly be again match and firing for John Caulfield’s aspect as they give the impression of being to shake off their early-season transitional tag and problem for Dundalk’s league title.
“The Irish Messi” may very well be key to their success, however O’Connor jokes that it’s, the truth is, one other South American and never the Barcelona star whom he fashions his recreation off.
“Alexis Sanchez in his prime, not a lot at Manchester United. There was a time when he was with Arsenal when he’d get the ball and also you’d arise out of your seat and the sport would open up a bit extra and attempt to beat his man and create one thing out of nothing.”