A FORMER KILKENNY minor hurler and Gaelic football colleges star was in the spotlight at Old Trafford last night when he hit the net as Manchester United were dumped out of the FA Youth Cup.
17 year-old Thomas O’Connor was in action for Southampton and helped his side claim a 2-1 victory in the third round tie.
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O’Connor’s 82nd minute goal was an excellent strike which brought the Saints level before they secured victory with a cracking finish from Will Smallbone.
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“I found myself down the left channel – normally I don’t even go down the channel but I just found myself in space there,” O’Connor told the official Southampton FC website after the game.
“I cut in and it was just instinct to hit it with my right, which I don’t do very often, but luckily it went in.”
Unreal win against United at Old Trafford in the youth cup tonight! #WeMarchOn 🔴🔴
— Thomas O'Connor (@tomoconnor__) December 12, 2016
Source: Thomas O’Connor/Twitter
“It’s the best game I’ve ever played in. It was an unreal performance from the boys. Even when we went 1-0 down we still felt like there was something in it for us.”
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O’Connor – who has represented Ireland at youth level – signed his first professional contract back in May with Southampton when he penned a two-and-a-half-year deal after joining the club initially last year.
The teenager previously played hurling for the Kilkenny minors and his club Tullogher-Rosbercon.
GOAL: #MUFC 1-1 #SaintsFC (Thomas O'Connor 82)
O'Connor cuts inside and curls in an equaliser for Saints! pic.twitter.com/zlnyIbehms
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) December 12, 2016
Source: Southampton FC/Twitter
And in April 2015, he produced a sensational Gaelic football display when shooting 2-6 as Wexford outfit Good Counsel New Ross won the All-Ireland junior football colleges title against St Brendan’s Killarney.
The Kerry school that day fielded five players – Michael Potts, Billy Courtney, David Shaw, Dara Moynihan and David Clifford – who feautred in last September’s All-Ireland minor football final.
It wasn’t the first time that O’Connor had lit up an All-Ireland football final, hitting 0-8 when Good Counsel New Ross claimed the junior title in 2014.
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