Rockmount ’keeper O’Connell dedicates 70th cap to late friend

Rockmount ’keeper O’Connell dedicates 70th cap to late friend

Brendan O'Connell leads out the Irish team in Wales

LAST Saturday was a memorable and significant day for Rockmount stalwart Brendan O’Connell.

He captained the Irish amateur football side to a two nil victory over Wales, a game in which saw him receive his 70th cap which he dedicated to his late friend and talented sports star Johnathan Herlihy. 

Here he tells us what the game meant to him.

“I was delighted to win my 70th Cap,” said O’Connell. 

"My first cap was in August 2004 and it's been a fantastic experience since then. I feel very lucky to have been involved with the team for pretty much all of my adult playing career, getting to travel to countries all over the world, play in fantastic stadiums against various international outfits.

“It was great to reach the milestone of 70 caps and that the management is still putting trust in me to be Number one. 

"The 3rd of September is a special day in my own Calendar as it’s the anniversary of my close friend and former team mate Jonathan Herlihy who passed away 16 years to the day. 

"So it was nice to reach the milestone on that date too.” 

The Rockmount goalkeeper has been part of the International set up since 2004 but every game representing his country is a special occasion.

“Last Saturday's win over Wales was a good performance. We won two nil with both goals scored within the first 20 minutes by Stephen Champer and fellow Rockmount player Nathan Broderick. 

"I was happy to get an assist for the first goal with a long ball over the top.

“Up to last month (when we played Wales at home) there had not been a capped match for nearly three and half years so I’m delighted the campaign is up and going with plenty of International football to look forward to in the next few months. 

Ireland's Brendan O'Connell about to make a save in the game against Wales.
Ireland's Brendan O'Connell about to make a save in the game against Wales.

"We have Northern Ireland home and away in the next few weeks and then obviously European qualifiers in Bulgaria at the end of October.

“Playing at this level is a fairly selfish pursuit, and a lot of juggling goes on to make sure there is time to be available and prepare yourself to compete at this level. 

"We have a hectic schedule from now until the start of November (which includes 10 days in Bulgaria). My wife runs her own business and we have two small boys Cillian (7) and Ronan (1) so life is busy away from the playing field, but Colette’s support over the years but especially now when home life is so busy is fantastic and I owe a lot of this success and longevity to her.

“My Parents Nellie and Dermot are also an outstanding support, especially in the early days, ferrying to and from training and organising logistics and training gear meals etc and plenty of encouragement means that they are hugely instrumental in getting me to this stage. 

"My parents in law Neil (RIP) and Agnes have also been a great support to me over many years.

“On the pitch I have been very fortunate to play with so many brilliant team mates, from when I first played with UCC in the MSL to the present day with Rockmount AFC. 

"My goalkeeping coach Derek Clarke has been brilliant in working with me over the past 12 years, working hard with him on a weekly basis. 

"His sessions are great, he is always researching and looking at different ways to improve the sessions and keeps it fresh and challenging.

“The captaincy on the current team is an important role; we have a lot of young players who are new on the scene and I try to make them feel welcome and offer any advice I can. 

"Leading the team out the tunnel with the green Jerseys behind is really a brilliant experience.

“Cork lads Eoin Murphy, Adam Crowley, Nathan Broderick and Luke Casey – All played a part and are improving as the games go on and are adapting to the different pace and dynamic at this level.

“A final squad may not be picked until mid October. I think we have a very talented group, and hopefully we will continue to gel and improve over the next few weeks. 

"We have a very tough group, but with a bit of luck we can get over the line and have a Regions Cup Finals to look forward to next summer. That’s the aim.” 

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