Spurs strike back to deny Cork's Anthony O'Connor and Morecambe in the FA Cup

Caoimhín Kelleher and Adam Idah enjoyed FA Cup wins but there was no success for the rest of the Leesiders in action
Spurs strike back to deny Cork's Anthony O'Connor and Morecambe in the FA Cup

Morecambe captain and Cork native Anthony O'Connor celebrates scoring in the Emirates FA Cup third round match at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Picture: John Walton/PA Wire.

FOR a long spell at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday afternoon, Anthony O'Connor was set to be an FA Cup hero.

The Leesider and captain of underdogs Morecambe gave them a first-half lead and a real shot at knocking out a Spurs side who have yet to settle under new manager Antonio Conte.

Ultimately, the hosts clawed their way back in front en route to a 3-1 third-round victory. Harry Winks levelled in the 74th minute, followed by Lucas Moura and Harry Kane goals in the closing stages; Morecambe denied a famous win.

Still, it was a game the veteran from the northside will reflect on fondly at the end of a career that has taken him to a myriad of clubs across the water, including Blackburn, where he first moved as a teen, Plymouth, Torquay, Burton, Aberdeen and Bradford.

The 29-year-old has consistently delivered wherever he has gone in the professional game and took his chance, from a corner, neatly against the Premier League outfit.

O'Connor will return to League One duty in the coming weeks, with Morecambe third bottom of the table and battling to avoid the drop.

A product of Cork Schoolboys League clubs Kilreen Celtic and NuFarm, he was linked with a move to Cork City during the John Caulfield era when he was leaving Aberdeen after two years but ended up at Bradford City instead, making 123 appearances across three seasons.

CONSISTENT

He's justifiably proud of his longevity, even if he never got the opportunity to play in the top tier. He told Kevin Palmer: 

"I've always felt I had the ability to play at a higher level and had ambitions to get into the Premier League, but the break I needed has not come my way.

"What I have done is play 40-50 games every year at whatever club I have been at and that has always been my motivation.

"You see some kids coming through academy set-ups now and they are getting paid £25,000-a-week and there is no doubt it can dilute their motivation."

There were a host of Corkonians involved in other FA Cup games at the weekend.

Caoimhín Kelleher was between the posts for an understrength Liverpool at Anfield, as they overcame their Covid issues in a 4-1 win over Shrewsbury Town. While some would argue he would be better served moving for regular game-time instead of occasionally deputising for Alisson, the 23-year-old has featured in the Premier League and Champions League this season.

Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher warms up. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.
Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher warms up. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.

Shay Given's view on Premier Sports was: "He’s not a kid anymore. I think he should be playing regular first-team football.

“The biggest problem he has is that Alisson is ahead of him. Alisson is in the prime of his life and could be for the next five or six years. Does Kelleher sit there and be happy as a number two?"

Bandon's Conor Hourihane was at midfield for Sheffield United in the 3-0 loss away to Wolves, though John Egan didn't feature.

Another powerful Cork defender Jake O'Brien signed a loan deal with Swindon Town last weekend but was an unused sub in their defeat to Man City on Friday night.

O'Brien, a Youghal native who excelled at a number of sports including hurling before joining the Cork City Academy, is regarded as a top prospect at Crystal Palace and has shone for Irish underage teams.

Rising star Chiedozie Ogbene did come on for Rotherham United, who were beaten 8-7 on penalties after a 1-1 draw with Queen’s Park Rangers at Loftus Road. Kieran Sadlier, another former Cork City attacker, started for Rotherham.

BOOST

Adam Idah came off the bench for Norwich City in a 1-0 win on the road to Charlton, a boost for a club struggling in the Premier League.

Ex-Cork City defender Seán McLoughlin was part of the Hull City team defeated 3-2 by Everton despite taking an early lead at KC Stadium.

Alan Browne and Seani Maguire couldn't prevent Preston North End from losing after extra time to Mick McCarthy's Cardiff City, while Carrigaline's Aaron Drinan was up front as Leyton Orient went down 2-0 at Stoke City. Drinan has 13 goals this season but couldn't add to that on Sunday.

Norwich are away to Wolves in the Fourth Round and Liverpool host Cardiff. 

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