Three years ago, Limerick FC lost one of its brightest young players to the Championship when Paudie O’Connor left for Leeds United.
Since then the young defender has moved to League 2 Bradford City where he has flourished at the heart of the defence.
In the last few weeks, the League 2 season was ended indefinitely, bringing an end to O’Connor’s season but also allowing him to return home to Limerick, something which he has called a ‘silver lining’ when talking to Tom Clancy.
“News only officially filtered in about a week ago I suppose. It wasn’t viable for clubs down and around us so we’ve fallen victim to the virus also. But in the grand scheme of things you cant really complain.
“I managed to get home on one of the last ferries before the lockdown. Myself and a few of the Irish lads saw it as an opportunity to get home. I suppose I’ve been gone three years now and never really get more than two or three weeks with in the offseason. To be able to spend this amount of time with family and give the body a rest, I suppose it’s a bit of a silver lining.”
O’Connor’s development over the past few years has been consistent for the club who sat just outside the play-off places when the season ended.
Limerick’s fortunes since his departure have been vastly different with no senior soccer in the city this season, with O’Connor saying he hopes to see it back in the city in the near future.
Being home in Ballybrown has meant O’Connor has had time to reflect on where his career started.
He fondly recalls on the edge game with friends in his mini pitch where skills were honed and injuries were aplenty!
“Over the past few weeks my parents have been bringing up the stories from that field. For my 12th birthday, my father brought me to Rathkeale to get two full sized goals. Me and one of my pals cut a mini field into the ground in the field next to us. The seven or eight lads living around me could have 4/5 hour soccer games. You’d have to look after yourself or you could find an ankle hanging off! It toughened me up quick and helped me to learn how to deal with things. One of the lads claimed that his deliveries helped with my heading skills!”