WHILE Kevin O’Connor’s placement in central midfield when he came on in Saturday evening’s President’s Cup defeat to Dundalk may have seemed like a surprise, it was in fact a reversion.
O’Connor, so impressive at left-back for City in 2016 and 2017 before joining Preston North End, from whom he has signed for City on loan, marked his return with a goal from a free kick in the 2-11 loss and impressive in the middle – not that it was a huge switch for him.
“When I first joined here I was a centre midfielder and got converted to left-back,” he said.
“I try and get forward to try and score a few goals. Hopefully I can chip in with a few this year. I think I’m due a few. If I can help the team I’ll play anywhere.”
The free kick, a 25-yard curler in the 65th minute – similar to one he got in the 2017 President’s Cup win, got City back in the game but an equaliser couldn’t be found. Nevertheless, he is looking forward to the first league game against St Patrick’s Athletic on Friday night.
“It was a bit of déjà vu from the President’s Cup a couple of years ago,” he said. “I’m happy it went in but obviously it didn’t count for much in the end.
“I thought the lads did well in the first half. It was two set-pieces that killed us. That’s the way it goes sometimes. It’s not like us to concede from set-pieces. We will sharpen up on that.
“The lads gave it everything. It’s a good start to the season. Obviously, it’s disappointing to lose but the big one is next Friday. That’s the main one.
“If we play like we did in the second half we know we can beat anybody. We know how good we are when we want to be. We just have to make sure we’re ready to go every Friday.”
It’s a third loan spell for Wexford native O’Connor in his time at Preston, having also featured for Crewe Alexandra and Fleetwood Town.
He remains contracted to Preston until the end of the 2019-20 season but will be with City until the summer. While the former Waterford man is happy to be back at the Cross, he hopes that he will be able to make an impact in England again.
“That’s football,” he said. “I went over and gave it a good shot, but by no means am I done over there. [Cork] is where I enjoyed my football most. Once John [Caulfield] came calling, it was hard to turn down.
“It didn’t go well really at Crewe. I knew I was happy here. I love the city so it was an easy call after that.”
He added: “I’ll definitely be here until June anyway. Hopefully all goes well and we’ll see from there then. I’m here for a few months at the minute and I just want to fight to do as well as I can.”