Sporting Limerick takes a look at Paudie O’Connor’s big move to Leeds
Earlier this week, it was revealed that Limerick FC’s 19-year-old centre back Paudie O’Connor had signed for Leeds United on a two-and-a-half year deal. O’Connor announced the move on his twitter page, thanking Limerick FC, his team mates and manager Martin Russell. The statement read,
“Would like to thank everybody at Limerick FC for the last three and a half years. Been an amazing time there and always loved representing the jersey and I’m very grateful to Martin and the club for the opportunity to play senior football. Also like to thank the fans for the support they have given me and the lads over the years, it’s greatly appreciated. Wishing ye all the very best of luck for the season ahead. Paudie”
Having started his career in the Limerick Desmond league with Kilcornan FC, he also played with his native Breska Rovers and Regional United before joining with the Limerick U19s in July of 2013. Less than a year after signing with the U19s O’Connor would make his debut for the senior team in April of 2014.
O’Connor showed great promise from an early age and played for various underage Desmond League teams, being included in the squad for the prestigious Kennedy Cup in UL. O’Connor was only 16 year-of-age when he was snapped up by Limerick FC. Having impressed for the 19s team he was called into the senior set-up in 2014.
During Limerick’s ill-fated Premier Division season in 2015, O’Connor featured 16 times in defence as Limerick were relegated after losing a play-off to Finn Harps in Donegal. He was also part of the U19s squad in 2015, appearing 10 times for them as they lost the U19 National League title to Cork City in the Markets Field in December of 2015.
For the 2016 season, in which Limerick returned to the First Division, the young centre-half decided to focus solely on the first-team as they looked to bounce straight back into the top-flight. Making 23 appearances and contributing two goals, O’Connor was one of Limerick’s key men as they stormed to the title, finishing the season 23 points ahead of second placed Drogheda.
O’Connor was subsequently named on the First Division team of the year for the 2016 season, alongside no less than seven of his teammates.
O’Connor has spent the last number of months in England having trials with the likes of Leicester, Crystal Palace and Leeds. Shamrock Rovers were also tracking the defender, but Elland Road club were impressed with him and offered him a 2½- year deal. Limerick Manager Martin Russell is obviously disappointed to lose such a key player but hopes that O’Connor will reach his undoubted potential in Yorkshire.
“He had ambitions to go across the water and he wanted to explore that during the off-season and he did. Leeds was one of the clubs he went to and they obviously liked what they saw”. “We’re entitled to compensation, but he goes with everyone’s blessing and best wishes”, continues Russell who has been without O’Connor since their title win last season.
O’Connor will be integrated into the Leeds United U20s and U23s squads with hopes of him progressing to the first team squad in the near future. Leeds are currently 4th in the Championship with real promotion ambitions under manager Garry Monk who won the Championship play-offs as a player with Swansea.
What it does show is that the Airtricity League and well run clubs like Limerick can put players in the frame for big moves to the UK. Obviously moves like this also require talent and that is something O’Connor has in spades.<
Hopefully, we will be able to see the Ballybrown man play Premiership soccer as soon as next season.