Player Watch #35 Barry O'Connor - Irish recruit for 2020

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Kennedy Parker

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Jul 9, 2015
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Barry O'Connor
Barry O’Connor made the challenging switch from Gaelic football to Australian rules football when the Sydney Swans signed him as an International Category B Rookie in 2019. O’Connor, who hails from county Wexford on Ireland’s east coast, has trained as a key defender ever since arriving at the Swans at the beginning of the 2020 pre-season, with his marking ability, strength and speed his key attributes. His move to the Swans has linked him with assistant coach Tadhg Kennelly, from county Kerry, and teammate Colin O’Riordan, from county Tipperary.

Barry O'Connor
DOB: 26 June 1998
DRAFT: #Undefined, 2019 Other
RECRUITED FROM: County Wexford (Ireland)

 

WillHayward

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I dont have the absolute exact numbers but I believe that something like 55 players from Ireland have been on an AFL list in some shape or form (since 1983).

Of those 55 - 25 have played a senior game.

Probably only 12 can be considered 'hits' so that is 22%.

  1. Stynes
  2. Wight
  3. Keneally
  4. Hanley
  5. Tuohy
  6. Clarke
  7. O'Hailpin
  8. McKenna
  9. Glass
  10. Nash
  11. C O'R
  12. Begley

in 2020 there are another half dozen or so new Irish recruits trying to debut - including Barry O'Connor and Red Og Murphy (who has to get a mention just for having that great name).

If you look at the list above it seems like the 'hit' rate might actually be improving with time.
 

Seldom Seen Kid

Team Captain
Jul 30, 2009
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Melbourne via Dublin
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I dont have the absolute exact numbers but I believe that something like 55 players from Ireland have been on an AFL list in some shape or form (since 1983).

Of those 55 - 25 have played a senior game.

Probably only 12 can be considered 'hits' so that is 22%.

  1. Stynes
  2. Wight
  3. Keneally
  4. Hanley
  5. Tuohy
  6. Clarke
  7. O'Hailpin
  8. McKenna
  9. Glass
  10. Nash
  11. C O'R
  12. Begley

in 2020 there are another half dozen or so new Irish recruits trying to debut - including Barry O'Connor and Red Og Murphy (who has to get a mention just for having that great name).

If you look at the list above it seems like the 'hit' rate might actually be improving with time.
I posted the below a few weeks ago on the Geelong board, which will give you an idea of the tiers as I see them.

Looking forward to seeing COR this year, thought he was really starting to flourish pre-injury last year. His best traits seem to be his reading of the play, leadership and driving the ball forward, all of which will only improve at AFL level with games under his belt.

BOC is an interesting prospect. Huge athleticism and comes from a massively high achieving sporting family. Excited to follow his progress with the Swans.

As a Irishman, I've a keen interest in this and I'd rank them in tiers along the following lines:

Irish GOAT: Stynes - Brownlow and 244 consecutive games. Nothing more to be said really

Top Tier (100+ games & good-solid players): Kennelly, Hanley, Tuohy, Wight.
Kennelly obviously won a flag and was a very good player for a long time. Hanley was the most talented of this group and had a couple of years of near-AA form but injuries have ruined the latter part of his career. Tuohy you don't need me to elaborate on, has been very solid and durable for a long time across two clubs. Wight I didn't see play but his record puts him into this group

Current AFL Players (non-Rookies): McKenna (Ess), O'Connor (Geel), O'Riordan (Syd), Nash (Haw), Glass (Haw), Joyce (StK)
McKenna is clearly the best and most established of this bunch and is well on his way to equaling or surpassing some of the group above. O'Riordan is having a quietly solid season with the Swans. Nash is one of the most athletic specimens I have ever seen. He has a tough gig playing up forward but could be a star if he puts it all together. Glass and Joyce have some work to do but both have potential to be good AFL players.

There's been plenty of others over the years but didn't stick it long enough at a high level to really register: Setanta, Marty Clarke, Begley etc. And there's lots of first year rookies who haven't really started yet.

On topic, from what I've seen, MOC is hugely impressive and it's his defensive nous and body work that stands out most. His attacking game is developing well this year and he has huge scope for improvement given that is usually what the Irish players pick up first and most struggle with the defensive/positioning nuances that he already has down. Homesickness is the only obstacle to him playing 150+ quality games for you guys.
 

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GotTheGoodes

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I posted the below a few weeks ago on the Geelong board, which will give you an idea of the tiers as I see them.

Looking forward to seeing COR this year, thought he was really starting to flourish pre-injury last year. His best traits seem to be his reading of the play, leadership and driving the ball forward, all of which will only improve at AFL level with games under his belt.

BOC is an interesting prospect. Huge athleticism and comes from a massively high achieving sporting family. Excited to follow his progress with the Swans.
Cheers for the post mate!

Looking forward to seeing the new lads. Reckon the quality has never been higher.
 

WillHayward

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Aug 13, 2018
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Last edited:

Grand Uncle Horace

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mikey_san

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Mar 17, 2012
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Barry got a good write up from the game a week ago. Big, fast, strong. Reckon he will debut later this year.
Bit concerned with playing him all over the ground - I'd like a guy like him to nail down one spot for his first six months.


"First year pair Elijah Taylor and Barry O’Connor both caught the eye of Laidler who was impressed with glimpses he saw from both players.

“Elijah on limited minutes showed really good class throughout the game,” he said.

“Barry played everywhere today and played his role and did it to a high level.

“He started down forward and competed against bigger opponents, moved into the ruck and finished off down back.

“He is developing really strongly; he is so coachable and eager to learn which is awesome.”
 

Gman12

Senior List
Apr 8, 2009
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Wexford, Ireland
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Article about Barry, interview with his Dad. Promising from a Swans perspective to have parents being very supportive of his AFL career, although as I'd said earlier, I wouldn't expect anything less from George.


Wexford legend George O’Connor says he will be happy enough if his son Barry spends the rest of his sporting career solely featuring in Aussie Rules action.

Having already made his mark with the Wexford senior football team, 22-year-old Barry was also considered by many shrewd observers to be close to receiving a call-up from the Slaneysiders’ hurling boss Davy Fitzgerald.

Understandably, George, who enjoyed an illustrious career with Wexford hurlers from 1979 to 1996, would be very partial to seeing his talented son feature once again in inter-county action, in either football or hurling, or in both native codes.

“Of course, it would be nice to see Barry playing for Wexford again,” said George, who retired from inter-county hurling after playing a massive part in the Model County's 1996 All-Ireland final win over Limerick.

“But at the same time I won’t be broken-hearted if this does not prove to be the case and that he spends the rest of his sporting career playing Aussie Rules.

“The most important thing is that Barry is happy, contented and fulfilled in what he’s doing, so that’s what myself and Ellen (his wife) will be putting all the emphasis on rather than wishing that he comes home to play again for Wexford.

“Barry has made a decision to do his best to make a big impact in Aussie Rules and we’ll be supporting him all the way in his attempt to achieve his ambition.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity for Barry, and, as well as the sport, after studying commerce in UCD, he can finish his degree at New South Wales University”, added George about his son, who recently made a major move when he was elevated to the senior squad of his club Sydney Swans.

Asked if he reckoned that Barry was relatively close to receiving a call-up to match action in the Premiership, the two-time All Star said: “Naturally we would love to see Barry playing for the Swans’ first team, but I think we will have to wait a bit of time for this to happen.

“The main reason why Barry and a number of other players were promoted to the Swans' first team squad was due to a number of established players picking up injuries.

“It’s only a month since Barry turned 22 and it’s often not until a player is 26 or 27 years of age before they play in a Premiership match for the first time. But hopefully Barry won’t have to wait that long.

“However, we’re very aware and fully appreciative of the fact that regarding Aussie Rules football Barry is very much in the yellow-pack category and that he’s still learning his trade in the sport.”

Nevertheless, O’Connor senior, who, along with his wife, spent “16 days” in Sydney, courtesy of the Swans club, in March, is heartened by the fact that he feels that Barry is favourably equipped to adapt to the Aussie Rules game.

“I feel a big plus for Barry is that, although he’s naturally right-footed, he’s also very strong on his left side, and this is something that we would have focussed a lot on as he was growing up,” explained the former midfield ace.

“In that regard, he is very similar to (former Wexford player) Mattie Forde.

“As well, as football and hurling, he has played a good lot of rugby and so he is very used to the physical element of rugby which should stand him in good stead in Aussie Rules. A lot of the physicality has now gone out of Gaelic football, and it would be the same for soccer which Barry played a bit of.

“Also the ball is somewhat similar in rugby as in Aussie Rules.”

Interestingly, Barry O’Connor is somewhat following in the footsteps of his great, great grand-father who emigrated to Australia when he was only 19.

“The man went there with a grandfather of the horse racing trainer Jim Bolger, and they had to travel by boat around the bottom of South Africa because the Suez Canal had not been built at that time,” revealed George.

“The two men went gold prospecting and they returned to Ireland when they were in their 40s.”

[\quote]
 

Grand Uncle Horace

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