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Quickly after Saturday’s 89-52 win over Gold Coast Suns, Mark O’Connor was packing his baggage and on the brink of say goodbye to Geelong.
For the way lengthy, he doesn’t know. On Friday, the AFL ordered all 10 Victoria-based golf equipment to go away the state for his or her spherical six and 7 video games because of the second coronavirus surge there.
And so O’Connor’s Geelong, who even have Zach Tuohy and Stefan Okunbor on their books, will face Brisbane Lions in Sydney on Thursday after they had been scheduled to play St Kilda in Melbourne.
Then it’s on to a pre-scheduled three-week spell in Perth starting with a recreation in opposition to Collingwood on Thursday week. After that, the Dingle man doesn’t know. “It’s all a bit up within the air,” he shrugs.
The AFL have needed to turn into extremely versatile to make sure their season isn’t interrupted once more having been suspended for nearly three months between rounds one and two. Gamers could possibly be forgiven for feeling discombobulated though O’Connor counts himself as one of many fortunate ones.
“As a result of I just about don’t have loads of duty to anybody right here. I don’t have a companion or children so it is going to be much more hectic for individuals who do have households. There are a number of boys within the workforce who’ve newborns as effectively so it’s simply attempting to toss up how lengthy we’ll spend away and issues like that may be distracting.
“I’m in all probability escaping loads of that in my present scenario. It’s simply out of our management. I’m taking it day-to-day. I’m not trying additional than the subsequent recreation as a result of it could all change.”
The virus in Australia made headlines right here final month when Essendon’s recreation in opposition to Melbourne was postponed because of Tyrone’s Conor McKenna testing constructive for Covid-19. It later emerged he had recorded a false constructive however that didn’t cease these within the Australian sports activities media from disparaging him or questioning his future within the recreation.
O’Connor was in contact with McKenna final month with some phrases of help. “I simply despatched him a message when all of the hullabaloo was occurring. It was only one sentence: ‘I hope your head’s okay’ and I mentioned, ‘It will go’, which thankfully it has. Clearly, he got here again with the damaging checks. I used to be simply anxious for his psychological well being and I didn’t need to be blowing up his telephone much more.
“I suppose the tradition of the media out right here is a little more ruthless. Within the soccer business you’ve loads of ex-players who are typically simply scathing and ruthless. A number of it’s attempting to make headlines, which is form of what occurred to Conor sadly. Everybody was giving their opinion with out having info.
“Whenever you’re simply assuming issues and giving your opinion in massive information shops it may be fairly harmful for an individual. The issues that had been being mentioned, being plucked out of skinny air which weren’t even true. It’s harmful, that’s what it’s.”
The episode hasn’t soured O’Connor’s perspective in direction of the press though he’s not naive sufficient to understand he too could possibly be within the crosshairs sooner or later. “I’m fairly cautious anyway however on the similar time my time might come too. It’s about having that understanding that it’ll go.
“Like, Conor was underneath the highlight a few weeks in the past and there have been a number of extra gamers who’ve damaged restrictions they usually’re underneath scrutiny now and within the sizzling seat and it looks as if their world is coming down on them despite the fact that subsequent week it is going to be someone else. It’s simply the character of the beast. It’s clearly very arduous once you’re in the midst of it however it’s a must to realise it should go. If it does occur to me, I simply should maintain that in my head.”
Made a member of Geelong’s seven-man management workforce in March and becoming a member of the likes of Tuohy was a serious endorsement of O’Connor’s rise having made his debut in 2017. That adopted a brand new contract final 12 months, which sees him signed up till the top of 2022.
“It’s been a studying curve ever since however it’s nice to be recognised by the gamers and the employees who’re concerned within the choosing of the management group,” he says of the vote. “It gave me confidence that I used to be on the proper path, doing the proper issues by the membership and by my team-mates.
“By way of longevity and issues like that, I do see myself out right here for some time definitely from the sporting profession aspect of it. However nothing is assured and also you simply can’t look too far forward.
“Zach, they in all probability stopped referring to him as an awesome Irish participant out right here and now discuss with him as only a nice Aussie Guidelines participant, which is a testomony to how far he has come. Stef Okunbur is out right here with me, he’s doing phenomenally effectively and we’re following in Zach’s footsteps, seeing what he has needed to do and endure over right here. He’s in all probability just like the older brother who has needed to take all of the flak from the dad and mom within the early days and Stef and myself simply profit from him and his successes too.”
Though the winter in Geelong proper now isn’t too fairly, O’Connor loves the Australian life-style and wonders about bringing again a few of it when he returns to Eire. “I’m an enormous espresso man, I adore it. Possibly down the road, if there was one thing I might do it could be to deliver again the Aussie espresso and cafe tradition again to Eire. They only take the espresso so significantly, their espresso to water ratio and all this craic. The baristas over right here, they know what they’re speaking about. It’s nice, I like that.”
Geelong’s kind has been patchy however then so lots of the Premiership contenders have been out of kinds because the season resumed final month. Though he was relieved a late error didn’t show too expensive in opposition to Melbourne the weekend earlier than final, O’Connor has been progressing with every recreation. Simply don’t point out stats to him.
“It’s in all probability the Irishman in me, I don’t look an excessive amount of on the stats. I don’t see it as a part of my function to get my palms on the ball heaps. The journalists over right here love trying on the stats to confirm a degree they’re making or if somebody has a certain quantity of ball it routinely means they’d an awesome recreation but it surely’s simply not the case. I really giggle each time I see someone spotlight ‘oh, such and such had 30 disposals’, all that form of craic. It simply doesn’t register with me as a lot.”
What does is information from residence and he was thrilled to see the Dingle GAA pitch and the city absolutely reopen final week. “It’s nice that soccer is again. I’ve two older brothers (John and David) who had been simply dying to get a bit extra focus outdoors of their computer systems and research and soccer offers that, the sport and the human relations that go along with it. They’re simply stoked to be again coaching away. Gaelic soccer is the guts of the group.”