Leading from the front

Safe hands: Padraic O'Connor is looking to bag some more goals on on Sunday. Photo: Sportsfile

Safe hands: Padraic O'Connor is looking to bag some more goals on on Sunday. Photo: Sportsfile

profile of the O’Connor brothers lining out for Ballintubber on Sunday, but Corofin would be foolish to think that Padraic O’Connor didn’t pose as much of a threat as his two younger brothers who will be joining him in their attack. In his last three championship games, the eldest of the four O’Connor brothers, who will start for Ballintubber on Sunday, has rattled in 3-5 from his corner forward position.

Having had two cracks at the Connacht championship in the past five years and getting over the line is something that O’Connor is hoping to put right on Sunday. “I’d say the first time we won the county title, no matter what happened it was going to be a good year for us. Saying that, we did go out and try to beat Killererin in the semi-final but it just didn’t work out for us. The next year when we met Corofin, it was a game we’d look back on and think that maybe we left that behind us. So a bit of revenge would go down well this Sunday.”

Ballintubber’s success has been built on years of hard work and success at underage levels and this has seen a consistent flow of talent into the senior set up in recent times. While they’ve lost some great stalwarts in recent times, O’Connor knows that the lads coming through to replace them have been more than capable of stepping up to the mark. He told the Advertiser: “It’s changed a bit alright over the last few years. We’ve lost good men like John Feeney and Tom Early, but along the way we’ve picked up some great younger lads lake Michael Plunkett and the Finnertys and Diarmuid too. Those young lads have come in with no real fear, they’re used to competing at the top level in Mayo and with Mayo teams and playing in county finals and winning things. So when they see a club, they’re used to beating them and they don’t fear other sides.”

Hard work paying off

Ever since they crashed nine goals past Knockmore in their quarter final, with Padraic and his three brothers Cillian, Diarmuid and Ruairí all managing to find the back of the net in, everyone outside the county has been made aware of the goal threat that Ballintubber pose. While they openly admit that they do try and go for goals as much as possible, if it doesn’t work out Padraic knows they won’t be long hearing about it. “Yeah, the going for goals, it works out or it doesn’t. If we don’t score them people would be going why didn’t you kick the point. If it works great, but if it doesn’t you’d hear about it quick enough.”

It’s been a good year so far for Ballintubber, but they want to make it a great one and they’ve put in a lot of work to get this far and don’t want to end on Sunday, says the former Mayo minor and u21 star. “We’ve worked hard for it this year and put in a lot on the training ground, we’ve got better as the year went on and hopefully it’ll continue on Sunday. Beating St Brigid’s in the semi-final was a great thing for us, they’d be a side you’d have kinda looked up at and liked to emulate what they’ve done having won an All Ireland and been so successful in recent years. They’ve been the top side in Connacht for a while now, but when we saw Castlebar go to Roscommon and beat them last year, we knew we’d the ability to do that ourselves and with playing in MacHale Park we’d nice home advantage too.”

Familiar faces

O’Connor, who works as a garda, is based in Galway so he knows a few of the lads that he’ll be coming up against on Sunday and knows there’s not going to be anything easy from them. “I’d know a few of them alright, the likes of Paddy Kelly, Kieran Fitzgerald, and Kieran McGrath are guards, the two Kierans are in Claremorris so they’ll have had plenty of spying done on us I’m sure. But seriously, they’re a top side and it’s going to be a big test, but we’re ready for it and should be a good game on Sunday.”

One thing’s for sure, if one O’Connor doesn’t get Corofin on Sunday, there are two more of them in their front six ready to have a go and one primed to barrel up from defence and have a go if needed.

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