KEVIN O’CONNOR is loving life back on Leeside.
The Cork City player return to the club this season and has made a big impression both on and off the field. O’Connor has been excellent with his performances and has also brought real leadership to the club.
“I said it in the past about the last time I was at the club, I just felt that I wasn’t in the right headspace, which obviously wasn’t going to help me perform to my best,” O’Connor said
“It couldn’t be more different now. I am really enjoying my football again and that is important to me. I do feel that we have a great group of lads at the club and we all get on very well with one another.
“I definitely think there is a strong mentality here and I’ve tried to help in any way that I can.
“I do see myself as one of the senior players in the team and I do feel it is one of my roles in the team to help the younger players and give them any bit of helpful advice that I can.
“It was the same when I was younger. I used to take on advice from the senior players and always appreciated it when the experienced players took the time to talk to me and I owe them a lot.
“So, I do feel that it is my responsibility to do the same with the younger and try and guide them in any way I can and that doesn’t just have to be with football.
“It can be for anything. Yes, my priority will be to give lads advice on football but lads have lives away from football and even things like insurance or places to go for food and other little things like that come up in conversation.”
In the absence of captain Cian Coleman, O’Connor was given the armband and the Wexford native was “honoured” to lead the side out.
I was honoured when given the armband. It’s an honour to captain the club and it shows that the manager has a lot of faith in me.
“I don’t think there are too many extra duties being captain besides going up for the coin toss and leading the team out.
“I think I’ve just acted the same way as I did when I didn’t have the armband.
“There are so many leaders in the team which is one of the reasons why we have had a good start to the season and anyone could have been picked to be captain when Cian was injured but Healers (Colin Healy) chose me and I like I said, I was honoured he did.”
After a good start to the season, there is a real optimism that City will be promoted.
O’Connor, who knows what it takes to win the division having won it with Shelbourne last year, knows they is a long way to go in the season and that anything can happen.
“Our aim since we came back into preseason has been to get promoted and that has not changed.
“I think we knew we had to get off to a strong start and luckily we have. There is a long way to go in the season and there are a lot of games to be played.
“I think it would be foolish to be writing any team off at this stage. I think with the results we have seen in the division this year, that there are no easy games.
“We have to focus on what we are doing and as cliché as it sounds, take it one game at a time. That’s what we did with Shels last year.
“I think there are a lot of similarities between this City side and Shels last year in terms of the desire and determination to get promoted.
“It really is about hard work. It doesn’t just happen for players that they show up the day of the game and everything falls into place.
“You have to train well. Be a professional on and off the pitch but it is also important that you have a good dressing room and that players in that dressing room are willing to fight for one another.
“That’s what we had at Shels and I believe we have that at City as well. Hopefully come the end of the season, that hard work, determination and willingness to fight for one another will pay off.”