O’Connor “comfortable” at Cats

April 16, 2024 10:30 am in by
Mark O'Connor and Jeremy Cameron celebrate a goal in Geelong's win over North Melbourne. (Jason Borys/Pixled Sports Media)

Mark O’Connor thought his current contract would be his last.

The Geelong utility has revealed he was considering playing two more years in the Hoops and returning home to Ireland to fulfil a dream of winning an All-Ireland Gaelic Football title with County Kerry when he signed a deal in the middle of 2022.

However, the 27-year-old has signed a two-year extension that will take his tenure at GMHBA Stadium to ten years.

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“It’s always something that comes up at the end of every year because I’ve a very strong connection with home,” O’Connor said.

“It’s definitely something I’ve thought about.

“But, I’m very happy here now, and this will take me to ten years out in Geelong.

“I’m very settled with my decision.”

O’Connor, who has played 114 games since making his debut in early 2017, says he feels more comfortable with his Geelong family each year.

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“It’s probably just spending time with people, and relationships grow over time as well,” he said.

“It’s a club with a great culture here with very like-minded people, and that makes it a bit easier.

“As time goes on, you spend a bit more time with people and start to enjoy it a bit more and get a bit more comfortable, even with the wider community.”

O’Connor is also grateful for the teammates who have made the effort to visit his hometown, Dingle, in the off-season.

“Prior to people coming over, I very much had two separate worlds,” he said.

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“People back home didn’t know too much about AFL, so when I went home in the off-season, it was very much separate and almost like two different lives.

“But, as people came over and spent more time over there, there was the blending of the two.

“And, of course, that does build stronger relations and they have a better understanding of where you came from and the people you hung around with.

“Along with being great fun, it certainly did strengthen the relationships.”

O’Connor still hopes to realise his Gaelic Football dream and is grateful for being allowed to turn out for Dingle in the post-season.

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“That’s absolutely very important to me in terms of my connection home,” he said.

“It’s very much a pillar of the community, and my family are very heavily involved with the club.

“For the club here to allow me to do it, it’s something very special and it’s something I’m very grateful for, because I know not every AFL club is comfortable with doing it.

“It’s something I’d like to continue to do.”

O’Connor’s immediate focus is the Cats keeping their unbeaten start to the season alive when they face the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba on Friday night.

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Geelong’s start – its best since 2017 – has caught some off-guard, but not O’Connor.

“You probably go into every game expecting to win – or at least hoping that you will win, and you prepare accordingly,” he said.

“It probably hasn’t taken me by surprise, but we’re very much happy to be in the position we’re in.”

X: @krockfootball


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