As per Sydney Swans official website, Wexford native Barry O’Connor is relishing the chance to train with the Sydney Swans as he sets his sights on the “dream scenario” of becoming an AFL footballer.
O’Connor, who was recently a member of the Wexford Senior football team, arrived in Sydney on Tuesday for a two-week stint in the professional footballing ranks, the Australian Football League.
The Wexford native was spotted by Kinnear Beatson at an AFL Combine in Dublin last November, and following this, the Sydney list manager invited O’Connor to the two-week trial programme.
Speaking to SwansTV recently, O’Connor said:
“I just want to learn as much as I can about the game, try to improve and try to make an impression so the Swans want to pick me up.”
“That’d be the dream scenario but I also just want to enjoy the experience, take in as much as possible and learn.”
When asked if the skills from Gaelic football are transferable to the AFL pitch, O’Connor noted the many similarities:
“It’s quite similar in a lot of ways. There’s catching and kicking. It’s a different-shaped ball but I played a lot of Gaelic football at home,” O’Connor said.
“I think I should be able to pick up on the catching and marking. I played rugby when I was younger so the oval ball isn’t too unfamiliar. I guess calling for a ball, making a run – hopefully I’ll be able to pick up on those things quick enough.”
“Then there’s the kicking and hand-balling which might be a bit more difficult because it’s a different style of kicking altogether, so that’s a brand-new skill to learn.”
Kerry great Tadhg Kennelly, along with Tipperary’s Colin O’Riordain who is also plying his trade down under were already in contact with O’Connor to ensure he is welcomed with open-arms into Australia.
“Colin was able to talk me through the process of how he got over to Australia and how he started a career here. It was nice to speak to someone who came from a similar place,” O’Connor said.
“And I just met Tadhg today so hopefully I’ll be able to learn more about the game from him.”