By Cian O'Connell
The schedule might be busy, but Diarmuid O’Connor isn’t too bothered and is simply delighted to be involved in high class matches.
Whether featuring for Mayo, DCU or Ballintubber, O’Connor relishes this time of the year when the Electric Ireland Sigerson Cup is placed high on the agenda.
There is no doubting the desire of third level footballers for the fabled Sigerson. DCU are getting ready under the stewardship of Niall Moyna.
“It is a great competition, the college football is something I always enjoy,” O’Connor admits. “I enjoy playing with the lads at this time of the year.
“Unfortunately we are out of the League, we lost to UL so we are just training away, playing a couple of challenge games, and hoping to improve for the Sigerson.
“Niall Moyna is managing us, he has a lot of experience, we have been training hard for the last few weeks, trying to improve on what went wrong in the League. Hopefully that will be seen in the Sigerson.”
Significant expectations are attached to DCU and O’Connor is excited about the emergence and development of some younger members in the panel.
“We had a few successful Fresher teams in the last few years so a lot of those lads, younger lads are being brought into the Sigerson panel this year,” O’Connor says. “It is quite a young team, but we do have experienced lads there too.”
Losing another All Ireland with Mayo hurt deeply, but O’Connor was quickly back in action with Ballintubber and DCU.
“It is a long year, You might think you want a break, but a week or two out of the game you are dying to get back in,” O’Connor acknowledges.
“Niall gave me a couple of weeks off to rest and recover so I haven't got to play as many games yet with DCU as I would have liked. Niall has given me a lot of recovery time which was well needed so I'm looking to come back in as stronger as ever.”
An All Ireland Under 21 winner with Mayo in 2016, O’Connor expects some members of that team will be afforded an opportunity to demonstrate their talents at the highest level in the coming years. O’Connor, Stephen Coen, and Conor Loftus are being afforded game time with the Green and Red, but more could follow.
“Hopefully, every county would like to see their Under 21 players progress up to the senior panel,” O’Connor adds.
“It doesn't always happen for different reasons, but they will be given a chance so hopefully we will see more of them come in during the next year or so.”
A Final Teaching Practice stint in Physical Education and Maths in Malahide awaits O’Connor after Christmas, completing his four year stint in DCU.
Throughout that time O’Connor served the Mayo, Ballintubber, and DCU causes so this upcoming Sigerson adventure has particular importance.