WHILE he may have been making headlines lately scoring for his country, soccer star teenager Mark O’Mahony has been a stand out player for many years.
The 16 year-old from Carrigaline is a truly exceptional talent and for many of us lucky enough to have seen him play, this was always very evident.
His lightning pace, strength, power and finishing has helped him become the player he is today and it has helped him pick up the many accolades he has throughout the years.
Player of the season and top goalscorer on more than one occasion but the modest Carrigaline Community student has always kept his feet firmly on the ground with his focus on being the best footballer he can be.
Currently part of Cork City FC and the Irish International squad, here O’Mahony tells us of his journey and about his dream of one day playing in the Premier league.
“I started out with my local club Carrigaline at the age of four, and from a very early age, the dream was to play professionally in the Premier league, and that is still very much the focus,” said O’Mahony.
“My dad played with Ballyphehane side Kilreen Celtic and so sport was something my mam and dad were always going to make sure myself and my sister got involved in.
"I played other sports growing up but there was never any doubt that soccer was my favourite and when I had to make the decision to choose just one, it was an easy decision really.”
Growing up O’Mahony always stood out that little bit extra among teammates.
His work ethic was always evident and through this earned him call ups to teams a year above his age.
Even as young as U11, he was winning the golden boot with 27 goals, while still being a year underage.
He was part of every Cork schoolboys team growing up finishing as U13 Player of the year before signing to play National league with Cork City Under 15s.
From here he developed massively, and since has progressed in the game earning his first International cap this season.
“I signed with City in 2019 under Billy Woods. I was playing up an age finishing the season with 12 goals in my first season.
"The following season was cut short due to covid, however this years U17 season has been my best season to date.
"Managed by my former Carrigaline coach Dave Moore, we went on to win the U17 Mark Farren cup. I finished the season with 15 goals and player of the year so I was really happy with that.
“Through my performances with City, it earned me the opportunity to trial for Ireland and to make the team and represent my country was a dream come true.
“Being called into the Ireland U17s for the first time in July for a training camp was a big moment for me and my family especially having not made previous squads in the past year.
"But to make my debut at Turner’s Cross in September in a friendly against Mexico is a game I’ll never forget.
"I came off the bench as a sub late on in the game and I went on to score the winner with my first touch in the shed end which is a moment I will always treasure.
"Putting on the green jersey for the first time was truly an amazing feeling and hearing the national anthem in my home county was even better.
“A month later we were again playing in Turner’s Cross in the U17 European championship qualifiers where we finished top of the group with two wins and a draw.
"I scored in all three games which was a great moment. Recently I was called up to play with the 18s in two friendlies in Malta where we won one game and drew the other.
"I started the second game scoring a hattrick in a game we won 7-1. Again this was a fabulous moment for me and something that has really given me a huge appetite to continue the hard work.
"Scoring a hat-trick against Malta was a proud moment for me and my family being the first hat-trick I’ve scored for my country.
"The squad is very competitive, you have to fight for your place in every training and match to earn your place in the squad but I like that challenge."
Hard work is something O’Mahony would never shy away from, and one person in particular who has seen this first hand is personal trainer Conor Meade.
“Mark is a great guy who works hard and is a great listener,” said Meade.
"His attitude during lockdown is something that makes Mark stand out amongst many.
"He looked at this time as a chance to get ahead and improve and prove people wrong who might have thought he wasn’t good enough or quick enough.
"He is a great guy to take everything on board and in my opinion has out worked his peers outside of Cork City and with brilliant work by Dave Moore and Steve Barry.
"He has huge potential and I am delighted to see him progress in the game.”
For O’Mahony there have been many who have influenced him in his career to date, and all of whom he believes will help him achieve his dream of being a professional footballer.
“Being managed under Colin O'Brien and his staff has helped me tremendously over the last few months and there have been many who have helped me over the years.
"My dad started as my coach and then there were lads such as Kieran Crotty, Mossie Coughlan, Edwin Delaney, Ken Dennehy, Dan Murray, Dave Moore, Liam Kearney and Conor Meade.
"Plus guys like Tim Mawe and Willie Walsh always great to advise. Conor Meade (maximumfootball1on1) has helped me massively over the past year helping me become a better player on and off the pitch and helping me with so much and has pushed me to another level and that’s what I hope to continue to do.”