Kevin and Cork colleagues denied by Dundalk
Published 10/11/2015 | 00:00
Sunday wasn't the way Kevin O'Connor wanted to end his debut season at Cork City as his side lost the FAI Cup final to the same team which beat them to the Premier Division title.
The 20-year old started the game in midfield and impressed again despite Cork's loss to Dundalk in extra-time.
It's been a whirlwind year for the Curracloe man. A trial at Premier Division Bournemouth proved fruitless, and O'Connor came back and played the opening round of the county Senior football championship for Shelmaliers and scored six points against Adamstown.
In the meantime he had signed on the dotted line for Cork City, having spent the previous two seasons at Waterford United. While at the RSC, O'Connor made 22 appearance both years and was one of the bright spots in an otherwise miserable couple of seasons for the Blues.
O'Connor bided his time as the season kicked into gear in April and he wasn't involved in Cork's first ten league games. Promotion to the substitutes' bench followed in May against Bohemians, and the versatile Wexford man made his debut the following week in a victory over Sligo at Turner's Cross.
Playing at left-back, O'Connor made the position his own for the second round of fixtures, starting all eleven games, ten in defence and one in the holding midfield role. O'Connor picked up his first yellow card of the season in that midfield position against Bray.
A first crack at the Europa League ended in extra-time disappointment against Reykjavik, but O'Connor continued to hold his starting berth and excelled as Cork knocked Greg Bolger's St. Patrick's Athletic - the holders - out of the Cup.
After not being involved against Galway in week 25, O'Connor bounced back with a start in midfield and his first, and up to now, only competitive goal for City. In what many regarded as a man of the match performance, he was on target as his club once again beat St. Pat's.
Apart from being an introduced substitute in week 28 against Derry, O'Connor has started all Cork's league games since. However, as the season wore on he was a more common sight in midfield for the Leesiders - the place he occupied in the cup final.
O'Connor signed a new contract during the season to stay at Cork for 2016, but should his stock continue to rise as it has in this campaign, then a move to England may be back on the horizon in the not-too-distant future.